Intel's ideas for a makover for the traditional PC are bearing fruit.
At Comdex, Gateway's senior vice president of product development Jim Collas said that the company will launch an ergonomically-designed, modular computer, currently codenamed Chameleon, in 1999.
He refused to be pushed further on details of the design but speculation clusters around the belief that the system will be a portable PC housed in a desktop cradle. Although this sounds rather like some of the docking stations that have been around for some years, the desktop unit could have room for expansion cards to offer better video and audio capabilities than can be squeezed into a notebook PC.
What may be truly innovative is the inclusion of an integral flat-screen monitor panel on the desktop unit. Collas said it is a form factor that the company is investigating, but added that the high cost of this technology could be inhibitive.
Intel is trying to spur on the industry with its pyramid-shaped concept PC (see PC Week, 22 September). A true measure of how well the industry has listened to Intel will be the new PCs at the Consumer Electronics Show in the US in January. This is where several Taiwanese manufacturers will unveil new designs, according to Paul Ortellini, executive vice president of Intel.
Terry Ernest-Jones, research manager for personal systems at analyst firm IDC, commented that with PC performance across manufacturers levelling out, there will be a need to differentiate in other ways than with service agreements and price points.
"Companies such as Toshiba and Apple have tried to introduce innovative designs with mixed success," he said. "There will be some resistance in the business market initially, just as there was from IS managers when colour replaced monochrome screens."
Ernest-Jones added that the consumer market will probably lead in popularising these designs and the business market will follow.
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