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Many technology gurus have been sounding a death knell for desktop computers, predicting that powerful laptops will take their place. That may happen one day, but according to the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center’s most recent survey, 70.5 percent of attorneys in offices with two to nine attorneys use desktops as their primary computer. The figure is higher — 78.6 percent — for offices with 10 to 49 attorneys. So desktops are not disappearing, but they are shrinking in size as most users are trying to see how much power they can get in the smallest package. Manufacturers offer a range of customization options, but below are some highlights about the latest micro-sized desktops, all based on the Intel Pentium 4 processor, and all of which take up about as much desk space as a telephone book. IBM CORP. IBM’s latest offerings of small desktops are the ThinkCentre S51 Small Form Factor (SFF) and the ThinkCentre S50 Ultra Small Form Factor (USFF). Small form factor PCs are alternatives to fully-loaded desktop machines — in a compact space they offer plenty of speed and storage. But, if you want to upgrade, these machines are constructed with IBM’s “toolless-entry” design: You can open the computer, change the hard and optical drives and add memory without so much as a pen knife. With dimensions of 3.3 by 10.8 by 10.6 inches, the S50 USFF is 75 percent smaller than IBM’s traditional PC. The lightly larger S51 is equipped with the new Intel 915 express chipset, which lets you connect one computer to two monitors and move between them using one mouse. For the true multi-tasker the effect is a doublewide screen. The acquisition of IBM’s personal computing business by Lenovo Group Limited, the leading PC brand in China, is expected to close in the second quarter of this year; however, analysts do not expect the deal to affect IBM’s service or support. If you’re interested in leasing rather than buying a computer, you can find information on IBM’s SuccessLease program for small businesses on its Web site. IBM ThinkCentre S50 Price: from $643 Warranty: 3-year onsite, parts and labor Memory: up to 2 GB Drives: 1 internal up to 80GB; 1 swappable optical, all 4 formats Dimensions: 3.3 x 10.8 x 10.6 inches ThinkCentre S51 Price: from $759 Warranty: 3-year onsite, parts and labor Memory: up to 2 GB Drives: 1 internal up to 80 GB; 1 floppy; 1 swappable optical, all 4 formats Dimensions: 14.1 x 12.2 x 3.3 inches DELL INC. Dell’s contender in the ultra-small desktop category is the OptiPlex SX280. The SX280 is a tad smaller than the ThinkCentre S50. The cost of the smaller package is an external power supply. Dell touts the machine’s flexibility as its users can maximize their desk space by sliding the computer into a height-adjustable stand attached to the back of an HP monitor. Another selling point is that the SX280 has a modular device bay that allows you to swap in a second hard disk or Dell Latitude notebook CD or DVD burners. The OptiPlex SX280 can also support two monitors. Dell also produces the OptiPlex GX280, basically the same machine as the SX280 but in small desktop and tower sizes. Dell offers a variety of financing options for small businesses, more details are available here. Dell OptiPlex SX280 Price: from $643 Warranty: 3-year onsite, parts and labor; next business day service Memory: up to 2 GB Drives: 1 internal up to 250 GB; 1 swappable optical, all 4 formats Dimensions : 10.3 x 9.8 x 3.5 inches HEWLETT PACKARD CORP. Carly Fiorina may have been pushed out, but there are still some products that may be of interest. HP’s space-saving offering is the HP Compaq dc7100 ultra-slim desktop. The dc7100 is slightly thinner but has a slightly larger footprint than its two competitors from IBM and Dell. However, like the Dell machine, it also comes with a stand into which you can slide the chassis. The stand will hold an HP monitor in front. And, like the IBM ThinkCentre computers, the dc7100 also features a tool-free design for changing components. The dc7100 is also available in the slightly larger SFF and minitower sizes. HP has a special program in which it offers discounts to legal professionals — as much as 10 percent on direct purchases. More information is available here. HP Compaq dc7100 ultra-slim Price: from $739 Warranty: 3-year onsite, parts and labor; next business day service Memory: up to 3 GB Drives: 1 internal up to 160 GB; 1 swappable optical, all 4 formats Dimensions: 12.4 x 13.18 x 2.95 inches Ann Sherman is associate editor of SFB. Contact her at [email protected].

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