New ThinkCentre A61e Desktop Announced Today

Today Lenovo launches a new desktop, the ThinkCentre A61e. It has several aspects that make it notable. One, it is smaller than anything we currently sell. Two, it is our greenest desktop ever. Three, it offers the lowest acoustics of any of our desktops, and four, it allows us to get to lower price points than ever before.

Size The first thing that many people notice about the A61e is its size. Its total volume is 4.5L. Prior to this announcement, our smallest form factor was our current Ultra Small Form Factor at 6.3L. In the desktop world, we use liters to compare machines because it is the easiest way to compare size. Height, width, and depth are all different and PCs come in all sorts of different shapes. However, the number of liters of volume will tell you accurately how much space it will take up on your desk. Usually a smaller desktop has many compromises in order to get it as small as possible. Common ways to get smaller are to leave out expansion slots, limit memory slots, use mobile hard disk drives and optical drives, and moving pieces outside of the system. The A61e does not have any expansion slots, but it does use standard 3.5" desktop-sized hard disk drives for full desktop performance. It also has a full 5.25" desktop optical drive. To get smaller, the A61e uses SODIMM (notebook) memory and moves the power supply to under the user's desk. The power supply itself is not that large. If you are familiar with the ThinkPad G series AC adapter, it is smaller than that, but still bigger than a standard ThinkPad adapter. There is also an optional bracket to allow the machine to be attached the rear of a flat panel display so that a user can have a completely clean desk.

Environmentally Friendly Mark Hopkins pointed out to me after my last post on Green Desktops that when the PC division was part of IBM, we actually tried this out in the 80s with the IBM PS/2E Green Machine. It was the industry's first Energy Star compliant personal computer. It had a 50MHz IBM 486SLC processor, four PCMCIA slots and borrowed many components from the ThinkPad line. It was also composed of recycled plastics and was designed to be easily recycled at the end of its useful life. (Thanks to techeblog.com for this)

The A61e is made of recycled resins to reduce its environmental footprint. But since most people associate "green" with energy consumption, we are most proud of that. There are models that draw as little as 65 watts.  It is fully Energy Star 4 compliant, and has an EPEAT gold rating. One of the cool things is that since it is such a power miser, we even have a solar panel option to run it. (For more comments on the solar panel, check out Gizmodo here or here.)  Standby power draw is 4.1 watts and normal idle is 47 watts. By our best estimation, this PC will only cost an average user $20.32 in electricity costs to run, about ½ of a typical PC configuration.

Noise People hate noisy, intrusive machines in their workspaces. Background noise in an office typically is somewhere around 4.0 bels. Under a compute load, the A61e rates 4.1 bels. In contrast, our ThinkCentre M55 desktop produces 4.8 bels under a compute load. (Our desktop team is going to be significantly improving the noise output for our forthcoming desktop announcements for the rest of our product families.)

Price Point In addition to low power draw, the A61 has full support of our ThinkVantage software tools for lowest ongoing cost of ownership. We also understand that acquisition cost is extremely important. There will be price points lower than anything we currently sell (varies by geography, but as low as $399 in the US), and to help keep complexity down, instead of full configure to order, customers can choose from select preconfigured models. The machines will then be direct shipped from the factory, eliminating a touch, and therefore reducing costs. Customers who literally buy a boatload of them can expect even lower price points. And yes, it can also run Linux, with RedHat, Novell, and TurboLinux certifications.  :)