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ECS announced recently its DeskNote i-Buddie A980 mobile desktop PC, the first ever mobile barebone computer. It features no display, no CPU, no RAM and no HDD, but only the “case” with keyboard and touchpad. The indisputable trump of the novelty is that you are free to install the most high-end and cutting-edge hardware, or you may buy not really expensive components that are enough for your needs.

Here is the list of i-Buddie A980 technical peculiarities:

  • Supports Socket 478 Pentium 4 / Celeron processors with 400/533MHz FSB with 3.06GHz clock-speed and above;
  • SiS650 chipset with SiS962 I/O controller;
  • 1 DIMM slot for up to 1GB of PC2100 or PC2700 DDR SDRAM memory.
  • Integrated graphics core, ability to install NVIDIA GeForce4 Go420 mobile graphics card.
  • 2-channel ATA-100/66/33 integrated controller;
  • Includes an 8x DVD-ROM drive;
  • Free bay for 2.5” HDD;
  • 4 USB 2.0 ports;
  • FireWire (IEEE1394) port ;
  • IR port with transfer rate up to 115.2Kbit/s;
  • 10/100Mbit/s Ethernet adapter and connector;
  • Integrated 56K modem;
  • 6-channel audio solution and built-in speakers;
  • Size: 342mm (W) x 300mm (D) x 34mm(min)/50.5mm(max);
  • Weight: 1.8Kg.

End-users have a lot of opportunities to expand and configure such computers, they even now can choose between 14” and 15” TFT panel, what should allow ECS’ customers to get the most cost-effective solutions possible.

According to this French web-site, such barebones will be priced at $300. Not expensive, I believe, but remember that you will need to get a display, a microprocessor, a memory module and a hard disk drive to make it functional. It seems that the DeskNote i-Buddie A980 will hit the stores quite soon, as certain European local resellers of DeskNote computers already promote it and it seems that the only thing that stops them from starting the sales is the absence of appropriate LCD displays for such computers.

Last year ECS did not achieve its full-year shipment targets on the DeskNote line of products (see this news-story). Elitegroup Computer Systems decided to follow its usual strategy of offering the cheapest products possible and in order to achieve this it needs to buy as few expensive devices as possible. Since LCD panels seem to be the most highly-priced parts of DeskNote systems, the Chinese company decided to sell the DeskNote PCs without LCD panels in order to keep the inventory level of such units low. This seems to be the right idea in order to keep the lowest prices possible; however, I doubt it will help ECS to skyrocket the sales of its DeskNotes in Europe or the USA, because not a lot of customers want to build notebooks on their own. On the other hand, a lot of companies sell already functional DeskNote computers, which purchase seems to be more interesting.

Time will tell if ECS is able to boost its sales of portable desktop computers by selling display-less DeskNotes.

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