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Net vendor drives down PC prices

Net vendor drives down PC prices

Aiming squarely at bargain-hunting students and small businesses, US based Internet-only vendor iDot.com recently announced a $US699 PC based on a 300MHz K6-2 processor.

That price includes a well-rounded feature set: 32MB of SDRAM, a 4.3GB hard drive, and a 4MB AGP Matrox G100 graphics card. Also included are a 32x (maximum) CD-ROM drive. But the price does not include a monitor, sound card, or modem.

A multimedia bundle, with an Aztec Labs sound card, Altec Lansing speakers, and Aztec Labs V.90 56Kbps modem, costs $79 more. The company also sells 15in and 17in monitors for $130 and $199, respectively.

So, what's the trade-off for such a skimpy price?

"You want to look at whether the vendor is solid and going to be in business for a while," said Scott Miller, a personal computer analyst at Dataquest.

"I'm not saying that iDot.com won't. But you trade off service and support in some cases. How do you get the thing fixed? How hard is it to get someone on the phone?"

IDot.com is just one of many vendors selling PCs for less than $700 (without a monitor). Some manufacturers are bundling cheap PCs with Internet service, hoping to hook buyers into a long-term arrangement.iDot.com claims to be the first PC company built for the Web and is backed by a $3.5 million private venture fund from MAG Technology, a manufacturer of peripheral products.

The company offers a one-year, onsite warranty for its low-cost PC, and a five-year warranty on the processor and main memory. The company also offers 24-hour, toll-free tech support, seven days a week.


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