Lenovo Ships Ultra-Compact Desktop PC

The ThinkCentre A55 Small Form Factor PC measures 3.3 inches by 12.2 inches by 14.1 inches, almost two-thirds the size of traditional tower desktops, according to Raleigh, N.C.-based Lenovo. The system, which has a street price of $579, can be configured with Intel Core 2 Duo, Pentium D, Pentium 4 with HT Technology, or Celeron D processors; the Intel 946G Z Express chipset; and up to a half-terabyte of storage. It comes loaded with Windows XP or Vista.

With the ThinkCentre A55, Lenovo aims to tap vertical markets, such as education and call centers, that seek low-priced desktop PCs with ultra-compact footprints. The company said the small system could achieve adoption rates in the United States similar to that of space-crunched geographies like Japan and China.

"In 2007, the overall market for small form factors will be 26 million systems, so it's definitely growing," said Lenovo project manager Dilip Bhatia. "We clearly see a solid ramp for business customers."

A key element of the ThinkCentre A55 is its tool-less design, which is designed to ease support and maintenance, Bhatia noted. "In terms of how easy it is to get in [the computer], this is the perfect system for solution providers," he said. "If you want to open it up, you just press two buttons and it pops up, very easily."

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Initially, the rollout of small-form-factor desktops occurred in Japan, where PC footprints often must to be small and where complexity and physical security in venues such as Internet cafes are primary concerns, according to Bhatia. However, Lenovo has "slowly started to see the small form factor take a big increase in adoption in other geographies," he added.