Dell launches its smallest desktop PC yet

Dell Computer launched Monday what it says is its smallest desktop computer yet. The OptiPlex SX260 is 50 percent smaller by volume than the company's current OptiPlex machines and comes with an LCD (liquid crystal display) monitor.

The machines, which were launched in Tokyo by Michael Dell but will go on sale worldwide, are designed to take up less space on the desk than current computers and can be placed either horizontally or vertically, said the company. Roughly square in shape measuring 24.7 centimeters by 24.1 centimeters and 8.5 centimeters thick, they weigh 3.5 kilograms.

Continuing with the space-saving theme, an optional LCD (liquid crystal display) monitor is available with a companion bracket that acts as the monitor stand and does double duty as a stand for the main PC, meaning the two take up even less desk space.

Part of the size reduction in the PCs has come about from taking out features like PCI or AGP slots, which means users won't be able to connect their own graphics boards or other add-in cards such as SCSI adapters. Dell has chosen Intel's 845G chipset which includes integrated graphics.

There is also no floppy disk drive as standard but the machines are the first OptiPlex line models that support booting from USB (Universal Serial Bus) memory keys. Dell said it plans to launch such a device in November and that it expects the higher reliability and storage capacity to make such modules more popular than floppy disks for booting machines.

Should users want a floppy drive, the computer's hot-swappable media bay accepts the same modules as Dell's Latitude C range of notebook computers.

Users have the choice of a Intel Corp. Pentium 4 or Celeron processor and up to 2G bytes of DDR (double data rate) SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM). Other technical features include six USB 2.0 ports (two front and four rear), integrated AC97 audio and integrated Intel Extreme graphics support.

The cheapest OptiPlex SX260 costs US$599 but a typical system will come nearer to $1,499. Such a machine includes an Intel Pentium 4 processor running at 2GHz, 256M bytes of DDR SDRAM, 20G-byte hard disk drive, 24X CD-ROM drive, Intel Gigabit Ethernet networking adapter and a 15-inch LCD monitor.