The Return of the Business Class All-in-One

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ThinkCentre A70z with chrome wire form stand

It's been a while since we got to design and introduce an all-in-one computer targeted at the business user. Lately we have been designing primarily towers and pancakes of various sizes. My team pioneered this category way back in the year 1999 with the watershed design of the NetVista X40.  The head turning design was done in close collaboration with our design guru Richard Sapper. It was a great experience for all involved. The trim flat panel based X40 was a serious counter punch to the overtly pudgy and candy colored CRT based offering introduced by a "fruit" company. Amazing how they have changed their design approach since then.  One reviewer humorously mentioned that the design we created looked as though it could beat up the "pudgy one"  after school and steal their lunch money. In 2001 we significantly updated the design of the X40. You can watch a short video we shot that highlights the design of the X41 on YouTube. The hair styles may look a bit dated but the computer doesn't. It was a dramatic improvement not only in terms of overall appearance, but also ergonomic flexibility, serviceability, configurability, and system performance. Domus magazine ran a major story on the X41 design which included the world's first, and I think only, centerfold showcasing the design. Sadly, the category was abandoned by IBM due to a maniacal focus on belt tightening rather than product innovation. We already had a totally modular design in the works that would have shocked the industry. We still have the design model stored away for posterity, or possible future use.


Striking profile of the award winning NetVista X41 circa 2000

Years later, Lenovo picked up where IBM stumbled with the introduction of the first ThinkCentre all-in-one. The ThinkCentre A70z is a solid entry into the market with a starting price just below 500 dollars. I remember when a 19" flat panel display cost far more than that. The design is rather simple in concept, we wanted it to look like a computer monitor. I don't think people want to stare at a overly styled object tht competes all day with the information it displays. The design uses a now familar chamfer technique to make the product look slimmer. This is pretty easy to accomplish since the entire thing in reality is only 2.4" thick at the thinnest point. We first started chamfering the sides of flat panel monitors and then the X40 series all-in-ones back in my old IBM days. Even the Shakers used chamfers on some of their furniture designs to emphasize thinness or precision. One of my favorites that uses a chamfer is the top of the New Lebanon Candle Stand from the mid 1800's. Did the Shakers realize they were such masters of modern design? The clean, well-proportioned forms of Shaker furniture and artifacts were opposed to the material values of the superfluous ornamentation that prevailed in 19th-century industrialized culture. Sounds a lot like modernism to me. A70z_12New2_sm

I love the way it floats above the desk and keyboard on the optional articulated arm

Perhaps more important than form characteristics, the new all-in-one can be used in several different ways. For a computer targeted at simplicty of install and space savings this is highly important. The base offering uses a somewhat magical spring loaded chrome leg that effortlessly adjusts the display to different angles, it does not however provide any height adjustment. If you require height adjustment we offer a more traditional stand similar to the one many of the ThinkVision monitors already ship with. Within the design department, we often call it the pogo stick stand. For ultimate adjustability the entire unit can be arm mounted like the X41 using the VESA mounting holes. The same holes can also be used for a simple wall mount similar to that of a flat panel television. I really like the idea of a wall mounted computer for kiosk use. It's hard to beat wall mounting for ultimate space savings.

AIO handle

We added a simple lifting handle for your convenience


The computer effortlessly tilts into position thanks to a magical spring

I like the reserved all business quality of the design we created and the innovative installation options it enables. It's great so have a nice all-in-one back in the lineup. Business never looked better. David Hill