IBM has further embraced network computers as a legitimate enterprise solution with the announcement of two network stations that complete a family of thin clients from Big Blue.
Adding to the Network Station Series 100, which has been shipping since March, the company has created a family of network computers that includes new midrange and high-end NCs.
The significance of IBM's commitment to NCs is not going unnoticed by end-users.
"Because IBM is in the NC space, I'll probably watch it closer," says Brian Jaffe, director of network and client services at Bantam Doubleday Dell, in New York.
IBM is calling the midrange Series 300 an "Internet network computer" because it is designed for businesses that require access to multiple servers, as well as intensive use of applications and data residing on corporate intranets or the Internet.
The Series 300, with a 66-MHz PowerPC processor and 16M bytes of RAM, is available now at an estimated retail price of US$799. The Series 1000 is being previewed but will not be available until the year's end. It is designed for businesses planning Java-based applications and needing robust support for Internet standards.
Though IBM prefers not to focus on numbers, the Series 1000 will feature a faster microprocessor, more memory, and more Level 2 cache than its predecessors, according to Jim Gant, vice president of IBM's marketing for the network computing division.
"I think there is too much focus on speeds and feeds," Gant said. "I know this is countercultural, but frankly, what's in the client doesn't matter. It's what it gives you access to that matters."
Analysts laud the addition of more models to IBM's thin-client offerings.
"It's always good to give consumers more choices," says Eileen O'Brien, an analyst at IDC..