America Online Launches ‘Instant AOL’

America Online, Inc. is launching Instant AOL, an instant-on version of its service available on a new line of home Internet appliances called the Touch Pad created by Gateway. Instant AOL is a customized version of the AOL service that connects the consumer to AOL as soon as they turn on the device and offers AOL members their regular benefits plus features and functionality specially configured for the Touch Pad.

The Touch Pad is a compact, easy-to-use touchscreen device that provides access to the Instant AOL service with an interface designed for use in high-traffic areas of the home where most families spend much of their time, such as the kitchen or family room.

“Instant AOL is all about making the Internet even more convenient than ever before. A lot of families keep their PC in a bedroom or study, but spend most of their time in the kitchen and family room,” said Barry Schuler, president of the Dulles, Va.-based AOL Interactive Services. “By adding a Touch Pad to their home, they’ll now be able to access AOL’s convenient services while they’re doing other daily activities.”

Instant AOL is designed with large, bold icons for use through the touchscreen, and brings forward content and features particularly convenient for use in either the kitchen — like information on home and family, recipes, and shopping time savers for groceries and gifts — or the family room — such as TV and movie listings and online music. The new service offers AOL members e-mail, instant messaging, “My Calendar,” and chat, as well as access to the entire Internet.

The Touch Pad will be offered at retail for $599. The key technological features of the Touch Pad are its Transmeta Crusoe processor and Netscape’s Gecko browsing engine. The appliance also operates on the Mobile Linux operating system.

“Instant AOL on the Touch Pad represents a continuation of our successful partnership with Gateway and adds to the growing ranks of ‘AOL Anywhere’ products we are offering consumers. Our members are increasingly intent on being able to access the service in a variety of ways, and with Instant AOL we are making that a reality,” said Schuler.

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