NEC Unveils Ultra-slim Notebook PC for Business Use

May 29, 2009
Yousuke Ogasawara, Nikkei Electronics
The "VersaPro UltraLite Type VS," a compact notebook PC for business use, weighs 725g. In addition to the Windows Vista Business model, a model with Windows XP Professional installed using the included downgrade right is also available.
The "VersaPro UltraLite Type VS," a compact notebook PC for business use, weighs 725g. In addition to the Windows Vista Business model, a model with Windows XP Professional installed using the included downgrade right is also available.
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The PC with the display closed. The matte-finish magnesium alloy feels more like plastic than metal.
The PC with the display closed. The matte-finish magnesium alloy feels more like plastic than metal.
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The side view. The keyboard is especially thin.
The side view. The keyboard is especially thin.
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The display is opened to the maximum angle.
The display is opened to the maximum angle.
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Parts including substrates are installed at the bottom of the chassis.
Parts including substrates are installed at the bottom of the chassis.
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Substrates and other parts were removed from the bottom of the chassis.
Substrates and other parts were removed from the bottom of the chassis.
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The main substrate
The main substrate
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The new PC uses Toshiba's SSD.
The new PC uses Toshiba's SSD.
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The substrate loaded with an SD memory card slot and a speaker
The substrate loaded with an SD memory card slot and a speaker
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The back of the keyboard. The three claws grab on to the lower chassis.
The back of the keyboard. The three claws grab on to the lower chassis.
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The lower chassis
The lower chassis
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The upper package. The black sheet is a carbon graphite sheet for releasing heat.
The upper package. The black sheet is a carbon graphite sheet for releasing heat.
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Connectors for the AC adapter and the LAN cable are attached to the main substrate via cables. This is because the substrate is subjected to the load caused by the insertion and removal of the connectors if the connectors are directly attached to the substrate, according to the company.
Connectors for the AC adapter and the LAN cable are attached to the main substrate via cables. This is because the substrate is subjected to the load caused by the insertion and removal of the connectors if the connectors are directly attached to the substrate, according to the company.
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The thin AC adapter that can be selected as an option. The main body of the AC adapter weighs about 110g, and weighs only 210g when the "wall-mount plug" on the right and the cable on the left are added.
The thin AC adapter that can be selected as an option. The main body of the AC adapter weighs about 110g, and weighs only 210g when the "wall-mount plug" on the right and the cable on the left are added.
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NEC Corp unveiled the "VersaPro UltraLite Type VS," a compact notebook PC intended for business use and weighing 725g, May 26, 2009, at a press preview in Tokyo.

We will introduce pictures of the removed parts and comments of the spokespersons, as well as our impressions in this article.

Our first impression of the chassis was "'Lui has finally become a notebook PC." Lui is a personal-use thin client system released by NEC in April 2008. The new PC is extremely similar to the "RN700," a "notebook PC remoter" that is one of the Lui terminals.

For example, its outer dimensions are the same as those of the RN700, and the chassis seems to be in common use with the RN700. However, the RN700 is a thin client terminal and can not be used by itself. Meanwhile, the new product, which features a substrate equipped with a main processor and SSD, is a compact notebook PC that can be used alone.

The new PC was realized by downsizing the main substrate, which uses the "Atom Z540," a microprocessor manufactured by Intel Corp of the US, and a ten-layer substrate. The size of the main substrate was decreased by 25% compared with that employed by the existing products of NEC's "VersaPro UltraLite" series, according to the company. The existing products feature the "Core 2 Duo" or the "Celeron 723" processors manufactured by Intel.

The memory is fixed at 1 Gbytes and mounted on the main substrate. It is impossible to add additional memory. The 1-Gbyte memory is insufficient to operate Windows Vista.

"We decided that users will accept it as long as it is intended for Windows XP," an NEC spokesperson said.

It incorporates an SDD, not an HDD, as its storage device. The storage capacity is fixed at 64 Gbytes.

"We thought it is unlikely that the 64-Gbyte storage capacity is insufficient for business use," the company said.

The SSD is loaded with an MLC module manufactured by Toshiba. The SSD module is connected to the main substrate via a connector, and modules with a larger capacity may be used in the future. But the spokesperson said, "The price will increase if large capacity modules are used. We'd like to see the response of the market by first introducing the 64-Gbyte product."

The substrates were manufactured outside Japan, but production of the chassis and the final assembly were carried out in Japan. This is because the thin-walled die cast magnesium alloy can not be processed outside Japan, NEC said.

The company made some compromises to reduce the thickness and weight, but it did not compromise on some other features. For example, the display panel features a resolution of 1,280 x 768 pixels, and the key pitch is 17mm with uniform-sized hiragana keys. Both of them are important elements for business use, the company said.

The PC has three USB 2.0 ports.

"Because the PC does not have VGA output, a USB interface needs to be attached when it is used for presentations, etc," the spokesperson said. "Three USB ports are needed because either a mouse or a mobile adapter for Internet connection would have to be pulled out if there were only two USB ports."

One port is located on each side of the new notebook PC, and the other can be found on the back. The port on the back is located closer to one side so as to make it easier to use devices that require a power supply equivalent to the amount supplied by two ports, NEC said.

Connectors for the AC adapter and the LAN cable are attached to the main substrate via cables.

"If the connectors were directly attached to the substrate, it would be subjected to the load caused by the insertion and removal of the connectors," the company said. "This could cause problems after prolonged use."

The press preview was quick, and the PC was demonstrated with a low processing load. Even so, I felt that heat generation is low. On the chassis, the area over the main substrate where the carbon graphite sheet is placed on the back felt slightly warm.

"When we used the PC in our office, we felt almost no heat on the keyboard and it did not feel hot even on the lap," the spokesperson said.

NEC positions the PC as a product for business use. The new product is targeted at companies and sole-proprietorships through the company's direct sales online shop, the company said. They are also planned to be sold by the corporate sales departments of major electronics retail stores, but individual users, too, may be able to purchase the products.

As for the reason why the PC is intended for business use, the company said, "We wanted to prove that a PC of this quality can be manufactured if we pay careful attention and focus on business use. So-called netbooks are drawing attentions as compact notebook PCs for individual use. Our new product is not competitive with netbooks in terms of the price. In that sense, we could realize it because it is intended for business use."