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Eco-friendly PC powered by Transmeta chip

NEC's green PC too dear for UK market

Transmeta makes its debut in the desktop PC market with the unveiling of an NEC all-in-one desktop PC with a 900MHz Crusoe processor. The $1,599 (£1,036) price tag, however, has proved too high for it to get a look in with UK consumers.

NEC's PowerMate eco features a 15in TFT display, a meagre 20GB hard drive, 256MB of RAM and a 900MHz Crusoe TM5800 processor. All the parts are built into the back of the display and require no fan for cooling.

The lack of a fan also makes for a quiet PC, which David Ditzel, vice president of marketing and chief technical officer for Transmeta, believes users will appreciate: "A noisy computer is always annoying".

The concept of silent computers is popular at the moment, with Hitachi launching the Flora 270W Silent Model water cooled notebook, while
Signum Data has the Future Client desktop PC which is also liquid cooled for silent operation.

The 900MHz TM5800 used in the NEC PowerMate eco is a "slightly higher speed version" than existing Crusoe processors, clocking up an extra 33MHz on its current top speed, 867MHz model. Although it has announced that a 1GHz Crusoe will appear in a forthcoming tablet PC from HP.

The PowerMate eco is targeted at consumers and business users looking for a quiet, energy efficient and compact desktop PC, according to Transmeta.

NEC also believes it has benefits that will appeal to environmentally aware customers. Eco-friendly aspects are the absence of boron in the CRT monitor and a motherboard made of lead-free solder, which is important in reclamation of PCs. NEC also claims the PC's plastic casing is 100 percent recyclable. The material is called NuCycle, a polycarbonate resin mixed with flame-retardant silicone.

But Brian Gammage, principle analyst at Dataquest, believes that despite these benefits the eco's high price may put users off.

"It is too expensive. If it was a third of the price it would have a big opportunity for success. It is nearly three times as much as low-cost desktop PC alternatives," he said. For example, in the US a Dell Dimension 4500S desktop with an Intel Pentium 4 processor running at 1.8GHz is priced at $609
(£394), according to its website. Even in the UK, where PCs are perennially more expensive, the Dell 4500S costs from £578 inc VAT, which is less than even the US price for the eco.

Perhaps NEC UK is aware that its customers aren't prepared to pay such a high price for an eco-friendly PC. According to Chuck Wearing, product manager of NEC Computers (UK), the company has "decided not to offer the first variation of the NEC Transmeta PC, but [it is] presently looking at one of the follow-on products, which may offer better features and increased price/performance characteristics for the European market". However, no definite decision has been made at this time.

The NEC PowerMate eco PCs are shipping in the US now, and have already been launched in Japan under the name NEC Mate MA90W/F.


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