IBM Unveils Phone Book-Size PC

IBM claims the S50 small-form-factor PC will be the smallest in its product line by a significant margin.

IBM on Wednesday unveiled the S50 small-form-factor PC, which the company claims will be the smallest in its product line by a significant margin.

The new PC line will be available this summer, with prices starting at about $600, IBM executives said. The S50 will be a full-featured PC, complete with a PCI slot to allow future expansion.

It is designed to appeal to both IT managers and users forced to deal with increasingly smaller office cubicles; according to studies, the space allocated each worker has shrunk to an average of 100 square feet, IBM executives said.

Overall, the S50 is smaller than the Manhattan phone book, measuring 11 inches wide by 10.2 inches deep by 3.3 inches, according to Fran OSullivan, general manager of the IBM Personal Computing Division.

"We sat down with key customers and got their input," she said. "We put our best and innovative minds together and came up with the best solution for them." IBMs research revealed that there are two groups of customers, OSullivan said, those that want the uncompromised performance that a minitower chassis allows and those who "want desktop functions but who want it in the smallest form factor possible," she added.

The new S50 is strong enough to support the weight of a 22-inch CRT, OSullivan said, but has a footprint that is actually smaller than the IBM ThinkPad T41 notebook. The new desktop is also IBMs quietest, producing only 39 dB of acoustic power.


The new desktop is completely tool-less, lowering the average component replacement time from 30 minutes to under 5 minutes, OSullivan clamed. The S50 will come packaged with IBMs ThinkVantage suite of software tools, including the ThinkCenter recovery tool, which allows one-button recovery of a crashed PC within 15 to 20 minutes, and ImageUltra, IBMs image-management technology. IT managers will also have the option of choosing S50s that come preconfigured with the Embedded Security option, which uses a dedicated encryption chip soldered to the motherboard.

The S50 will be based on desktop versions of the Intel Pentium 4 and Celeron microprocessors, although the system can use the same optical drive found in IBMs line of ThinkPad notebooks. The system contains both a PCI slot for expansion and a desktop-class 3.5-inch hard drive. Some models will contain IEEE 1394 ports as well as USB-2 connections, OSullivan said.

Although the desktop PC market is incredibly price-competitive, OSullivan indicated that IBM would not charge an overt premium for the S50s form factor, claiming that prices would be "competitive."


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