Acer Inc. is calling its compact Veriton N260G-E2802CP a “nettop,” but don’t be fooled by the name because it’s not exactly a netbook, said one analyst.

The Taiwan-based PC vendor on Wednesday unveiled the ultra-compact nettop, weighing in at 1.9 pounds, with a one-litre chassis that stands upright with the help of a retractable stand or attaches to the back of a display.

It’s meant for low-power usage and targeted at the professional environment where space may be limited, be it a small office, reception area, classroom, library, showroom, call centre, hotel front desk or airline check-in kiosk.

Nettop is a clever name but there is no mobility inherent in the hardware as one might expect from the popular netbook designed for ultra-portability, said Warren Shiau, lead analyst with IT research with Toronto-based consultancy The Strategic Counsel.

“When you think net, you think Web and you start thinking mobile,” said Shiau. “I wouldn’t treat (the netbook and nettop) as an extension of each other.”

The nettop, with Intel Atom processor and Intel GN40 Express Chipset, comes with up to 2GB of memory, a 160 GB hard drive and Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 4500M.

The nettop is more than just a shrunken desktop, said Shiau, who described it as a much smaller and a more attractive implementation of the clunky desktop.

“Imagine if you’re going to put a computer in your living room,” said Shiau. “It’s got to look like something else.”

The form factor certainly makes sense because low-power users are really better off with a smaller piece of hardware than the traditional space-consumptive tower, said Shiau.

Frank Chang, product marketing and business manager with Acer Canada, said the name “nettop” is appropriate given the PC vendor was an early adopter of the netbook concept.

“I think it’s a natural adoption because of the netbook internally,” said Chang.

Similar to the netbook in terms of specifications, the low-performance, energy-efficient offering also makes sense from a cost of ownership perspective, said Chang.

“To be quite honest, it’s been a struggle on the desktop team to have a product that can match the viral effect of the netbook,” said Chang.

A traditional desktop, he said, operates on a minimum 220W power supply, but the Atom-based nettop requires a mere 30W.

But while the nettop is built for the low-power professional user, there are the options to either treat the hardware as a lightweight thin client or equip it with a full-blown operating system, said Chang.

While the enterprise is not the primary target market, Chang isn’t excluding enterprise users as potential adopters depending on what applications they want to run.

“If the end user doesn’t demand a lot of processing power, for general office purpose, word processing, e-mail, spreadsheet, this has plenty of computing power to handle that,” said Chang.

Use of the nettop is quite flexible in that its HTMI and VGA outputs allow it to be connected in conference rooms to a large screen HTMI-based television, or to a desktop with a standard VGA monitor, said Chang.

While Chang has observed the traditional desktop remaining “pretty strong” in the enterprise and government institutions, he does foresee the eventual emergence of compact form factors like the nettop.

“We talk about green, energy efficient, global warming … those people who no longer require that kind of computing power, it would definitely be great to switch to a small compact (size),” said Chang.

The nettop is made of less material than traditional PCs and comes with less packaging, and has a power-saving feature.

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