Compaq unveils ultra-slim desktop

Declaring the PC far from dead, Compaq Computer Corp. has unveiled its Evo D500 ultra-slim desktop featuring a space-saving design that runs quietly even when sporting Intel's fastest processors.

Compaq announced the system here at Comdex and plans to ship the first unit running Intel Corp.'s desktop Celeron processor in the first quarter of 2002. Systems based on Intel's upcoming next-generation Pentium 4 chip, code-named Northwood, will ship sometime after that, said Jeri Callaway, Compaq vice president and general manager of the access business group. Compaq did not yet disclose pricing on the units.

Goodbye to beige

Calling the beige box PC "a dying breed," Callaway outlined the design improvements of the slick, black-and-silver D500. Among its attributes are modular drives, a tiny footprint, wireless capabilities, and nearly silent operation.

Compaq decided to bring these new features into its Evo line because to push forward, PC makers must innovate, Callaway says.

"If the computer industry does not continue to identify and quickly lead emerging trends to development, the PC may very well be doomed to extinction," she says.

The Evo family in May replaced Compaq's Armada, Prosignia, and DeskPro brands. The light, sleek systems have been well received.

Tiny form factor

The D500's small footprint is designed to catch the eyes of cube-dwellers and other business users. Its dimensions are just 2.72 inches high by 12.4 inches wide by 12.83 inches deep. Situated horizontally, it takes less space than a 17-inch monitor, Callaway says. Using a stand that comes with the Evo, you can place the system on its side and run it as a super-thin tower. The whole unit weighs 11.2 pounds. In keeping with its notebook-like dimensions, the D500 also features a MultiBay for hot-swapping removable storage devices such as disk drives and various optical drives. The MultiBay technology is the same Compaq uses in its Evo notebooks, which means you can swap drives between mobile and desktop PCs, Callaway adds.

Another notebook-like feature is the D500's built-in MultiPort technology. MultiPort, which Compaq rolled out in its notebooks some time ago, is a technology that lets you swap modules to use the wireless technology that is available. Compaq currently offers modules that support Bluetooth and 802.11B, and the technology will also work with future standards, she said.

Cooler and quieter

Despite its small size, the D500 isn't limited to slower, cooler-running CPUs (central processing units), Callaway says. A cooling system that uses specially designed heat sinks and fans enables the PC to safely operate Intel's future Pentium 4 chips. Of course, thanks to a die shrink and other changes those chips should also run significantly cooler at higher speeds than today's P4s.

That same cooling system should help make the D500 more people friendly--running as much as 50 percent quieter than previous desktop PCs, Callaway says.

Finally, another feature of the D500 is actually something it lacks: legacy ports. Following in the footsteps of Compaq's iPaq desktop, the D500 comes with only USB, VGA, and Ethernet ports. It foregoes the serial, parallel, and PS/2 ports that can cause technical staff problems.

However, for people who need those ports, Compaq markets a separate module you plug into the back of the PC to enable them, she said.

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Tom Mainelli

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