NEC introduces Eco (weenie) PC

— 12:00 AM on April 30, 2003

Perusing, I ran across this article discussing a new PC from NEC called the PowerMate Eco. According to the article, the Eco "is the first computer designed to be as environmentally friendly as possible."

So what does that mean? Well, for starters, the motherboard components are connected using lead-free solder, and the case is made of a 100 percent recyclable resin. Also, the Eco's LCD screen is billed as better than a CRT because of lower power consumption and the fact that LCDs don't contain boron. Of course, in this area the Eco probably doesn't have an advantage over any other computer with an LCD monitor.

The article goes on to say "[m]ore importantly, the Eco is Energy Star-compliant. . . ." Exactly why this is more important than a lead-free recyclable box is beyond me, especially since one would have difficulty finding a new PC these days that isn't Energy Star compliant.

So what are the specs on this bad boy? Well, bad is an apt word: The processor is a 900Mhz Transmeta Crusoe. A 20GB hard drive and 256MB of RAM is standard, as is a 24X CD-ROM drive. The Eco is available with either Windows 2000 Pro or Windows XP Pro, but no office suite is included, so factor that into the price.

And yeah, uhh, about the price.... It's, umm, $1499. Granted, that includes a 15" LCD monitor, because the Eco is an all-in-one design similar to an iMac or a Gateway Profile. But let's face it, it's never good when the article makes mention of the "more powerful $1,299 iMac." Look closely; you may never again see those words all run together like that.

At some level I can appreciate what NEC is doing, but I think they've probably taken it too far. It remains to be seen how successful NEC is with the Eco, but I suspect they would have done significantly better if they had made a regular business PC with the same environmentally friendly materials, instead of combining the "recyclable" and "ultra low power consumption" elements. Given a choice between a regular 2.4GHz P4 and a "green" one, many companies would likely choose the latter; make the choice between a 2.4GHz P4 and a comparably priced 900MHz Crusoe, however, means it's not easy being green.

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