Client Systems Product of the Year -- Dell OptiPlex SX260

For the second consecutive year, Dell Computer takes home a Datamation award for client systems, this time with its Dell OptiPlex SX260 minicomputer, an ultra small, yet modular PC that delivers full desktop computing power.
It's hard to beat high performance at a low price point. But when you factor in a tiny desktop footprint, you have a combination that once again proved unbeatable in Datamation's Client Systems Product of the Year category. The space-saving Dell OptiPlex SX260 garnered almost half the reader votes, giving Dell top honors in the overall client systems poll for the second year running.

An ultra small, yet modular PC that delivers full desktop computing power, the SX260 is the smallest desktop PC ever built by Dell (less than eight pounds). It is best suited for organizations deploying systems in tight spaces such as computer labs, Point-of-Sale solutions, and cubicle environments.

Prices for the OptiPlex SX260 start at $599, but a typical configuration sells for $1,499. That includes important features such as an Intel Pentium 4 2.0 GHz processor, 256MB shared DDR-SDRAM, 20GB hard drive, removable 24X max CD-ROM, integrated Intel Pro/1000MT Gigabit Ethernet network adapter, integrated Intel Extreme graphics, 15" UltraSharp SX260 flat panel solution, Windows XP Professional, warranty and maintenance. But many enterprise users won't need all those top-of-the-line options.

"Dell Computer's OptiPlex SX260 PC is priced right for enterprises eager to buy space-saving desktop computers," said Gartner Group analyst Mark Margevicius. He says that Dell's aggressive strategy in this market has renewed "interest in space-saving PCs and will ultimately drive the market."

Second in the Client Systems category was the HP Compaq Tablet PC TC1000. With a street price of $1,800, the TC1000 is powered by a 1-GHz Transmeta processor, and includes innovative stylus-tap buttons for invoking an on-screen control panel.

Gartner Dataquest expects 2003 Tablet PC shipments to reach 425,000 units. However, that still only represents a tiny fragment of the potential market -- a little more than 1% of mobile computer shipments. Eventually, though, according to analysts at IDC and Gartner, tablet PC's could account for up to one-third of all mobile computers. "We're pretty bullish, but we believe it's going to take time," said Leslie Fiering, an analyst at Gartner Dataquest.

Other finalists in the Client Systems category were the Toshiba Portege 2000, the Gateway Profile 4 and the Hughes Network Systems DW 4020. As the latest in a long line of Toshiba ultra-portal laptops, the Portege remains popular among readers. Similarly, Gateway's Profile 4 received praise for its space-saving design, as well as its many USB and FireWire ports, while the DW4020 merits an honorable mention as a robust terminal for two-way satellite broadband service.

Lack of Size Matters

The results in the Client Systems category from this year's user survey clearly demonstrate the continuing importance of size, or rather the lack of it, in enterprise purchasing preferences. While this used to apply only to laptops, it has developed into a pivotal feature of the desktop marketplace.

And that's a big reason why Dell OptiPlex SX260 grabbed this year's award. At 8 pounds, it is 50% smaller by volume than the existing OptiPlex small-form factor chassis. It can be easily mounted horizontally or vertically underneath a desk, to a wall or behind the optional SX260 flat panel monitor. The chassis attaches flush to the back of the flat panel stand.

Gartner Group predicts that by 2005, 65% of all business PC shipments will be of small-footprint models like the SX260, which offer fewer ports than traditional PC models. According to Margevicius, "Dell's move into these legacy-reduced, small-form factor PCs for enterprises will galvanize its competitors."

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