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Transmeta makes PC debut in US

Transmeta has moved into the US desktop PC market with the launch of an NEC all-in-one desktop PC with a 900MHz Crusoe processor. The $1,599 (£1,000) price tag, however, could put off potential purchasers.

NEC's PowerMate eco features a 15-inch TFT (thin film transistor) LCD (liquid crystal display), 20Gbyte hard drive, 256Mbytes of RAM and the Crusoe TM5800 processor running at 900MHz.

All the parts are built into the back of the display without the need for a fan for cooling.

Transmeta is best known for its power-efficient mobile PC processors. The NEC PowerMate eco marks the chipmaker's debut onto the US desktop PC market dominated by Intel and Advanced Micro Devices.

The PowerMate eco targets consumers and business users looking for energy savings, space savings and a quiet workspace. Call centres, hospitals and financial trading rooms are potential locations, the company said.

However, Brian Gammage, principal analyst with Dataquest, a unit of Gartner, does not believe users will pay $1,599 and trade in performance for a lower energy bill, a less cluttered desk and no noise-making fan.

"It is too expensive. If it were a third of the price it would have a big opportunity for success. It is nearly three times as expensive as low-cost desktop PC alternatives," he said.

For example, a Dell Dimension 4500S desktop PC with an Intel Pentium 4 processor running at 1.8GHz costs around $699 (£446) in the US.

Users today still focus on processor speed and hard-disk capacity when buying PCs. Shifting that mindset is a "major challenge", Gammage said. "The one thing that can overcome these technical considerations is price."

Transmeta has not offered a launch date for the NEC PowerMate eco. The system was recently launched in Japan under the name NEC Mate MA90W/F.

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