IBM wants to do for the desktop what car manufacturers have done for the automobile, the company said at the launch of its ThinkCentre line of products Tuesday.

These desktops and monitors focus on the user’s experience, said Harry

Wttewaall, IBM Canada Ltd.’s national ThinkPad Specialist.

Wttewaall explained that when early automobile manufacturers produced cars, the initial focus was on reliability and moving passengers from point A to point B. Over time, however, other things were taken into consideration — including the driver’s experience while driving the car. This led to innovation such as the automatic trasmission and more recently, automobiles that are aware of the environment to the point of activating windshield wipers in the rain. Such has been the evolution of the PC, he said.

In order to move the PC to the next level of evolution, IBM has been working to improve the experience of technology, Wttewaall said.

“”It’s the demands of the users that are driving the design of our products,”” he said.

In the case of the ThinkCentre desktop PCs, this means a smaller form factor. The ThinkCentre S50 has been designed to be 62 per cent smaller than a standard desktop and features an internal power supply.

“”People don’t want their PC to be the centrepiece of their workspace,”” Wttewaall said, noting that the smaller desktop in an enterprise setting could mean more room for workers.

Also announced in the ThinkCentre line were the M50 with support for RedHat and SuSE Linux and the A50p, a multimedia-centric PC with up to 128MB DDR memory.

Another result of customer feedback is the ThinkVision L170 series of flat panel monitors that incorporate one-button technology for automatic screen configuration. “”As a user you don’t have to focus on how to optimize your technology,”” Wttewaall said. “”What’s important is how you interact with technology.””

This interaction is significant for Bill Muirhead, the associate provost of learning technologies at the University of Ontario, Institute of Technology (UOIT), which is Ontario’s first laptop-based and Canada’s newest university.

Scheduled to open in September 2003, every UOIT student will be equipped with a fully loaded IBM notebook upon registration, but Muirhead emphasized that the university is not opting to use technology simply for the sake of technology.

“”We’re using business logic in applying technology in an educational environment,”” he said.

The Web-centric approach being used by the university is designed to create an educational environment in which students will learn in ways they will be expected to work upon graduation, he said.

“”We want to ensure that technology will enhance and not just equal face to face learning. It has to demonstrate that things are as good as they were without technology.””

Pricing for the IBM ThinkCentre and ThinkVision products were not available at press time.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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