Atom-powered panel computers
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)
NEC has a long history of offering innovative computing solutions. PDAs, web pags, industrial computers, rugged machines, handheld PCs, tablets, Pocket PCs, you name it, NEC made it at one point or another. Who could, for example, forget the great contributions NEC made to mobile computing with its line of MobilePro HPCs? Unfortunately, few of those products ever made it to the US.
With the advent of Intel's ultra power-efficient Atom processors, NEC is trying again by adding a couple of panel computers to its vast lineup of different computing solutions.
Named simply the 12PNC and the 15PNC, NEC's new touch screen panels, replacing older Geode LX800 powered models, are both based on the 1.6GHz Intel Atom Z530 processor. Using 45nm technology, the Z530s use a 533MHz Front Side Bus, have 512KB of Cache, and sport a ridiculously low Thermal Design Power of just two watts. They run either Windows XP (on a 80GB hard disk) or XP Embedded (on one to four GB of Flash).
The difference between the two models is size and screen size, and a few other details. The 12PNC has a 12.1-inch display and the 15PNC one that measures 15 inches diagnonally. Both have adequate viewing angles of 120 degrees horizontally and 100 degrees vertically.
The NEC PNCs are fairly well connected machines with four USB 2.0 ports, one or two serial ports, a gigabit LAN jack and either one or two speakers. There does not seem to be any standard wireless capability; that apparently must be provided via an internal ExpressCard slot.
Geared towards a variety of light-duty uses in offices, point-of-sale applications, medical settings or as kiosks, the NEC PNCs are durable machines with IP52 sealing.
The machines are supposed to hit the Japanese market in the Fall of 2008. Whether or not they will become available in the US is unknown.