Even before Microsoft's new OS was available, its impact was already being felt as PC vendors unveiled their upcoming Windows 7 desktops and laptops. High on the list of innovations was the OS-powered multi-touch capabilities in consumer PCs from companies Acer, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, and Sony.
With more touch-enabled PCs expected, the evolution from the 30-year-old input devices of mouse and keyboard has begun in earnest. On desktops, this shift is building steam in all-in-one PCs.
"These new AIOs heavily leverage multi-touch capabilities integrated into Microsoft Windows 7 operating system," DisplaySearch analyst Chris Connery said in a recent report on Windows 7's impact.
HP has long been a supporter of touch interfaces on all-in-one desktops, introducing the capability in 2006 in its TouchSmart product line. While the first model was a pricey $1,800, HP's latest systems, the TouchSmart 300 and 600, start at $899. HP has also unveiled a new business model in the TouchSmart line, the 9100, which starts at $1,299.
Gateway's new line of touch-enabled AIOs, the ZX Series, comprises three models that start at $720. Sony, on the other hand, is going after the higher end of the consumer market with its Vaio L Touch HD PC/TV, which is built as an entertainment hub with PC, high-definition TV, and digital video recorder in one unit. The system starts at $1,300.
DisplaySearch said prices for all-in-one PCs running Windows 7 could drop next year, becoming an option for entry-level PCs. While vendors wanted to introduce such models this year, rising prices of LCD panels in the second half of this year put a damper on plans, Connery said.
"Many of these products have been re-positioned to emphasize the enhanced features of Windows 7; lower-priced AIO products, including nettops, may emerge in 2010," Connery said.
Nettops are mini-desktops that typically run Intel's low-priced Atom processors, low-power chips also found in netbooks, which are mini-laptops best suited for basic computing tasks such as e-mail and Web browsing. Such entry-level PCs have been the driving force behind PC sales among price-conscious consumers in the economic recession.
Server Market SplitsvilleJust because the server market's in the doldrums doesn't mean innovation has ceased. Far from it -- server technology is enjoying the biggest renaissance since the dawn of x86 systems. But the primary driver is now service providers, not enterprises.
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