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PC World

NEC unveils new 'microdesktop' PC

Sleek 12-pound Millenium fits in small spaces.

by Peggy Watt

(IDG) -- NEC Computer Systems Division this week unveiled its Millennium PC "microdesktop," a sleek little unit that features a flat-panel display and borrows from notebook design but is intended as a lightweight desktop system. The device weighs 12 pounds and will cost around $2000.

"This is a very practical design," says Rob Enderle, senior analyst with Giga Information Group. It's especially useful for vertical applications where space is constrained, he notes.

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"Trading floors are already going to flat-panel displays, for example," Enderle says. "And health care services like flat panels because CRT emissions can interfere with medical instruments."

The unit measures 10.5 inches wide by 7.7 inches deep by 2 inches high. It has been available in Japan for the past six months, according to NEC. The U.S. version will run on a Pentium III and feature PC Card slots and a detachable LCD screen. NEC expects to ship it by the end of the second quarter.

The sleek design hints of new looks for computers in the millennium. Manufacturers are experimenting with smaller all-in-one designs for executives who don't want big systems cluttering their desktops, Enderle notes.

For example, Intel offered another vision of the future last year, showing a prototype of a rather ugly truncated pyramid design. That system may not make store shelves, but vendors are realizing they can produce something other than plain boxes. Apple, of course, has already experimented with futuristic designs and nonstandard colors for the Macintosh.

The new NEC systems use the company's flat-panel LCD technology. They are expandable through the VersaBay III design, also used by NEC's notebooks. VersaBay modules let you add floppy disk drives, DVD drives, and additional hard drives. You also can add PC Cards for other enhancements such as flash memory or an ISDN connection.

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