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Gateway Ships eMachines PC At $359 Retail

Gateway broke a new low-price point with the release of a $359 eMachines-branded PC.

The T3624 is priced $40 below eMachines’ usual entry-level price point and is the lowest-priced PC ever sold under the eMachines name. The $359 mark is hit with a $50 rebate, as are all of eMachines’ stated prices. Chuck May, Gateway’s product planning VP, said lowering the price bar was a straight forward process and done to keep up with AOL’s $299 PC offering, which requires the buyer sign a one-year Internet service contract.

“The simple answer is we can afford to. Our cost model and component cost allows us to do that,” he said, “without compromising the feature set.”

Excluding dramatic changes in component pricing, particularly memory, May sees $359 as the new anchor price for PCs, replacing $399, which was the benchmark price for the past five years.

The T3624 is joined by three other new units, the T3828, T3958 and the T5026. All units hit stores on Jan. 14.

The T3624 is based on an Intel Celeron 2.66GHz processor and features a 60GB hard drive, 256MB of DDR SDRAM, CD-RW drive and an Intel Extreme Graphics 3D card.

The step-up T3828 takes over eMachines’ traditional $399 opening price point. It adds a slightly more powerful Celeron 2.8Ghz chip, 80GB hard drive, a CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive and an eight-in-one flash media reader. May said that only Best Buy has opted so far to pick up this model.

With the midrange T3958, $499, eMachines includes a dual-format, double-layer DVD burner, a first for the company at this price level. The other addition is 512MB of DDR SDRAM.

The top-end T5026, $599 with no rebate, is powered by an Intel Pentium 4 519 chipset, running at 3.06GHZ; 512MB of dual channel memory, expandable to 4GB; a 160GB hard drive; a dual-format, double-layer DVD and CD-ROM drive; seven USB 2.0 ports; and three 1394 ports.