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The litl, a new netbook-like device for your home and lifestyle.

There have been various attempts by computer makers to conquer your living room. As the stylish MacBook Air and Macbook are becoming lighter and more powerful, accompanying our lives everywhere we go, the distinction of working space and living room is about to go away. Laptops today are so powerful, they cover everything from writing a film script to actually editing the resulting movie. Consequently, your entertainment, formerly governed by a TV, a DVD player and a stereo system, is driven by computers too.

Still, brands like Apple are struggling to redefine your living room experience. While Apple doesn’t want to commit to TV and BlueRay, hackers are trying to close the missing gaps. TV-makers like Sony are trying to tie traditional computer functions to the TV set.

The everywhere-at-home entertainment device

Rumors about Apple coming out with a tablet device some time in 2010 are fueling wild ideas about wirelessly transmitted video signals from computer to TV.

To connect to your TV, plug in a standard HDMI cable.
To connect to your TV, plug in a standard HDMI cable.

What Apple may be trying to do in 2010, one small new company is heading for today. They just announced their product called Litl, a small netbook-like device that is designed to bridge the gap of a traditional computer and an “everywhere-at-home entertainment device”.

The Litl was designed with the help of Pentagram, a traditional design company who doesn’t always have a lucky hand when it comes to interaction-design. However, from the pictures the Litl’s interface looks nice, straight forward and pleasing the eye.

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Robust enough to carry around and place anywhere.

Litl describes its user experience like this:

We built litl to enjoy the web at home. When you see our main navigation screen, you’ll immediately know how to use it. Just point and click. Litl eliminates menus, icons, and folders. In fact, we’ve removed all computer administrative debris between you and the web.

Breaking paradigms, introducing new ones

The company Litl claims the device is maintenance free, so you can just focus on using it for your pleasure. Its makers may have had simplicity for users in mind, but they weren’t shy introducing new interface ideas, like a wheel that replaces a touch screen, touch pad, stylus or mouse. All in all the litl tries to limit everything you do to a few established forms of entertainment and communication, such as news reading with RSS, watching movies or photo slide shows, or listening to music. Other than that, there is only so litl you can do with this thing, and for $300 more you might get as well a Macbook with better graphics, including programs to edit and enjoy sound and video, and everything else you’d expect from a robust operating system today.

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(Pictures by Litl)

  • Thanks for profiling our product. We’d like to make a few comments.

    “All in all the litl tries to limit everything you do to a few established forms of entertainment and communication, such as news reading with RSS, watching movies or photo slide shows, or listening to music. Other than that, there is only so litl you can do with this thing ..”

    This ignores three important features of our device – our update system, our linking and sharing features and our litl channels platform. The capabilities of the litl webbook will greatly expand with the addition of more litl channels (apps that customize your experience of content and webapps as logical extensions of our UI). We’re working with some high profile partners to develop some exciting new litl channels right now and also will be releasing an SDK in the near future so that the community can develop and submit their own channels. Our remote update system works automatically to upgrade your software and channels while you sleep – this means new channels with new capabilities will continue to appear on your litl webbook well into the future. Also, our webbook has a unique device linking feature which enables webbooks on the same local wifi network to hook up so channels on one machine can also be viewed on another. We also have a great sharing feature so photos and web pages can very easily be shared with litl friends – no downloading, uploading, emailing, and downloading yet again again.

    Also, concerning ” …and everything else you’d expect from a robust operating system today”. Presumably this includes viruses, malware, trojans and lots of ongoing maintenance (service packs for Windows, antivirus upgrades etc)? These things certainly are part of everything we’ve come to expect from “robust” general purpose operating systems. Litl believes the general purpose OS is over-featured, bloated and high maintenance for what a lot of people want to do on the web at home. You don’t have to maintain your tv or your toaster, why do we have to do all of this maintenance on our home computers? You’ve already probably got a productivity laptop running a general purpose OS for work. We offer something different, entirely adapted for easy home leisure use for all the family.

    Also, just a correction on the design front: Pentagram did important work with us on the initial concepts for the UI and on branding, but detailed design was done mainly by Cooper with ongoing work by our own talented in-house designers.

  • Phil, thank you for your comment, putting a few facts straight. I tried my best to look at the litl from all angles, giving it a positive review, but my only source was your website (we didn’t have a testing model) and apparently I oversaw a few things. So I really appreciate your comment, particularly about the three main features of the litl which I didn’t mention in my post.

    The “robust operating system” was actually linked to Mac OS 10.6, not Windows. It’s true that Mac OS requires manual updates too, but until today it has been virtually free of viruses or malware issues. As for the design point, the article mentioned it was designed “with the help of Pentagram”, not “by Pentagram alone”. Your design team did a great job!