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PC Vendors Unveil Eye-Catching Desktops

The watchword this week was variety as five PC vendors unveiled desktop computers that use a different method for catching the consumer’s eye.

Packard Bell NEC and Gateway gave a deep bow of recognition to the success of Apple’s iMac when they unveiled a new all-in-one form factor for their higher-end desktop PCs. Dell reversed its long-standing strategy of focusing on the business customer with the introduction of $899 consumer models. At the same time Compaq and IBM rolled out their back-to-school lines with the former creating its own ISP for its customers. (See IBM story here.)

The all-in-one NEC Z1 combines a 15-inch TFT LCD with an Intel Pentium III 450MHz processor, 96MB of RAM, 8.4GB hard drive and a DVD-ROM drive. The Z1 will start shipping this summer and is geared for customers interested in making a stylistic statement with their PC. Pricing was not announced.

The Gateway Profile is intended for the business customer, but with a suggested retail price of $1,999 can attract consumer business. Like the Z1 it comes standard with a 15-inch TFT LCD, but replaces the Intel processor with an AMD’s 400-MHz processor. Other features include a 4.3GB hard drive, 64MB of memory, an ATI Rage Pro 4MB video card, a network card, and Windows 98 or NT. You can upgrade to a PC Card modem for $99.

Compaq’s contribution consisted of the 5300 and 5700 Presario Desktop series, which have started shipping this week.

The 5304, estimated street price $599, features a Cyrix MII 366MHz, 64MB of RAM, 4.3GB hard drive, 56K modem, two USB ports, 32x CD-ROM drive and a 100MHz-system bus. The 5340, estimated street price $799, steps up to an AMD K6-2 processor and 96MB of RAM, while the 5360 has a K6-2 450Mhz processor, 64MB of RAM and four USB ports for a $999 suggested retail price.

The 5700 series starts with the 5714, which has a $1,199 suggested retail price. It has an Intel Celeron 466MHz processor, 64 MB 100 MHz SDRAM, 8MB shared video memory, 12GB hard drive, 10MB per second ethernet port, 32x CD-ROM drive, 56k modem and an internal 100MB Iomega Zip drive. The 5716, estimated street price $1,599, has an Intel Pentium III 450MHz processor, 96MB of RAM, 15GB hard drive, IEEE 1394 port, 6x DVD-ROM drive and 1.5MB DSL/56k V.90 Modem.

The 5726 and 5736 top out the line. The former sports a PIII 500MHz and 19GB hard drive and the latter a Pentium III 550MHz processor with 128MB of RAM. These models drop the DSL modem. Respective estimated street prices are $1,799 and $1,975.