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eMachines Bows Notebooks, LCD Monitors In 2003

While PC maker eMachines spent 2002 smoothing out the wrinkles in its customer care, inventory and desktop PC operations, it will shift its focus to expand its merchandise mix to include LCD monitors, notebook computers and rewritable DVD.

Gary Elasser, eMachines’ technology and platform development VP, said the company will, by mid-year, fulfill its long-standing promise to introduce notebook computers. Other plans include selling branded LCD monitors sometime during the first quarter, and a DVD+RW drive at an unspecified date. In addition last week the company introduced four new desktop PCs.

Elasser said retailers have been clamoring for the company to offer LCDs. The line will have 15-inch and 17-inch models, which will be sold as part of PC bundles. The company will have the ability to sell the LCDs as stand-alone products, but probably will not pursue that course, Elasser said.

The upcoming laptop line will initially consist of two basic SKUs, Elasser said, and eMachines will break from its historical position as a price leader in this category. “These notebooks will not be entry-level like the PCs are,” he said, saying that it is difficult to deliver a good laptop product for a very low cost. However, the models will continue its strategy of offering a great deal of value for a set price point, he added. A ship date and pricing were not available.

Its first quarter offering, which was introduced two weeks ago, contains four new models. The T1842, $399 suggested retail price, features an Intel Celeron 1.8GHz processor, six USB 2.0 ports, is Ethernet ready, has 128MB of DDR, 40GB hard drive, and CD-ROM drive. The step-up T2042 adds a Celeron 2GHz chip and CD-RW and DVD-ROM drives.

The T2260, $599 suggested retail price, has an AMD Athlon XP 2200 processor, a 60GB hard drive, 256MB of DDR and an S3 ProSavage8 graphics card. The top-end T2460, $649, has a slightly faster Athlon 2400 processor and an open AGP slot for gamers looking to upgrade their computers.

Elasser said Intel Pentium 4 level processors are on the 2003 roadmap.

The rewritable DVD situation is a bit more complex. The company will roll out the DVD+RW drives first, but these are likely to be supplanted with dual format capable drives that will burn -RW and +RW media, he said. Introducing the +RW format first is necessary because Microsoft has announced its support for that format.