"Web pad" seems to become the generic name for a portable, wireless, flat device, mostly consisting of an LCD touchscreen, which allows one to browse the web where ever one is (within the range of the base station, of course). They are in principle similar to e-books except that they need a (wireless) connection to the internet and a more powerful processor to be able to execute the web browser. Once used to e.g. read the latest news at one's breakfast table they are put back into their base station to recharge, similar to cordless phones.

Web pads are one of the first occurrences of so called "intelligent appliances", i.e. computer-like devices that are constructed for one specific task only, here web browsing. The reason for this is, though, that providing a full blown computer in the intended form factor (slim but big screen) is currently not possible. First vendors already try to push the limit, e.g. Sony's "AirPad", which can also display TV but as a result apparently became a little thick.

In the future web pad-like devices might be used for all kind of activities within an IHDN, from controlling devices to TV watching or visual baby phones (then "baby cameras" ?). The possibility to move the pad easily in three-dimensional space also allows for some interesting kinds of user interaction if the pad has the appropriate sensors.

Web pads are - to my knowledge - currently developed or produced by: National Semiconductor, Ericsson, Siemens, Sony, 3com (thanks to the unknown soft linker) and probably others. User acceptance is not yet clear though, probably especially due to the high prices of an LCD display with reasonable resolution. This may change in the future.

Other names found in the media: web tablet, wireless tablet