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ViewSonic Enters the PC Business

ViewSonic VPC100 All-in-One desktop PC
The ViewSonic VPC100 All-in-One desktop PC
Source: ViewSonic. Click to enlarge.

ViewSonic has been a major monitor maker for 20 years, so it seems an unlikely choice to enter into the PC market -- but that's exactly what it's doing with the VPC100 All-in-One desktop PC.

Talk about timing. The economy continues to sputter and computer sales have been off since late last year, especially desktop computers. At least the notebook space has held up somewhat as desktops continue to fall out of favor.

But Viewsonic thinks it has something different in the VPC100. The slim design packs an Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) Atom processor instead of a Core 2 processor, 1GB of memory and a 160GB hard drive into a cast with an 18.5-inch horizontal display. The VPC100 also uses Microsoft Windows XP -- which is less of a strain on the Atom than running Windows Vista.

In addition to the basic components, the VPC100 has four USB 2.0 ports, a DVD drive, wireless support with 802.11 b/g, an integrated Gigabit Ethernet port and an integrated 1.3-megapixel Webcam. Users can upgrade the memory and hard drive if they wish.

At $599, it's a lot cheaper than the $1,199 minimum for an Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) iMac, against which all-in-one PCs are inevitably compared, or when compared to HP's TouchSmart, which carries a hefty suggested retail price of $1,999.

Mike Holstein, vice president of advanced solutions and emerging technologies at ViewSonic, doesn't see his company becoming a competitor with the major OEMs that so often are paired with his displays.

"The way we view this new space is it's an emerging product category and an extension to ViewSonic's desktop monitors," he told InternetNews.com. "Most of our customers that we sell displays to today are not in this market. A lot of the competition in this emerging market are composed of offshore companies -- new companies entering the market. The major companies have not addressed this space."

The segment ViewSonic is targeting is the knowledge user, such as a desk worker who needs basic capability that an Atom-powered computer can easily provide, he added.

"Some of the competitive offerings are on the high end," he said. "They are multimedia machines with touch capability. We're targeting the office worker where the functionality we provide is more than enough for doing office productivity apps, and at the same time, even if it's a consumer, unless they want to do 3D gaming, these entry-level products are more than sufficient for the majority of consumer needs."

As a result, he doesn't see TouchSmart and iMac as competitors.

"I would draw the comparison to the netbooks," Holstein said. "Look at the market share netbooks enjoy right now. Why has that been so successful? Primarily because people didn't want to lug around that large 15-inch computing platform any more, plus the attractive price points."

"This is a new category for desktop PCs, at least the category we're targeting," he added. "There's not a lot of players out there. So we're hoping there's an opportunity to duplicate what we saw last year with netbooks."

The ViewSonic VPC100 is available now from ViewSonic resellers.