The Japanese giant which now sells notebooks, desktops and servers under the Fujitsu name, has a long, and somewhat complicated history. Finnish PC vendor Nokia started the trend when ergonomics was a novel idea in PC design. When ICL bought Nokia it inherited that legacy which is now being pushed into Fujitsu-branded systems, many of which are still made in Sweden and Finland.
The firm's new ErgoPro NetPC packs up to a 233MHz Pentium MMX with 32-256Mb SDRAM, Fast Ethernet, internal hard drive for cache, Wake-On-LAN remote power-up, front and back USB ports, Windows NT 4.0 and, of course, very low noise. SmartCard, PC Card/CardBus slots and audio are optional but anti-theft management and DMI 2.0 support are standard.
Fujitsu claims it is certain that its ability to offer a noise level as low as 28 decibels is the most quiet in the industry and plans to make more of the feature in its marketing. The reduction in noise output is achieved by a combination of features such as disk drive covering, fan suspension and alternatives to air being used for cooling.
"We're seeing big corporate customers asking for lower noise," said Frank O'Brien, UK sales and marketing director. "If we're about level with another vendor in a bid it might make all the difference."
"It's driven by our customers all over the world," said Tom Idermark, PC architecture manger. "Once we had a design that skipped ergonomic features and that was a mistake. Our customers didn't like that at all."
Idermark said that he was confident that for process-intensive tasks, the Net PC would find a home. "We definitely see uses in terms of size. A lot of people don't use the expandability in an orthodox PC."
Idermark also disputed IBM's recent assertion that Net PCs will actually be more expensive to manufacture than PCs. "I wouldn't say it would be more expensive. If anything, slightly cheaper," he said.
UK pricing will be available inside two weeks.