"It's the greatest news you're likely to hear from Compaq," announced Compaq's consumer products group business manager Geoff Anson. What he was launching wasn't a new line of servers. It wasn't even some high-end desktop workstations. Instead, it was Compaq's new line of high-spec, low-cost multimedia PCs meant very much for retail sale.
The machines start at less than $2000, and work their way up. To minimise cost at the low end, the machines are built on the Cyrix MediaGX CPU and come as sealed systems. The idea isn't so much to stop people from opening the machines and adding expansion products - simply because they can't. What you need is what you get.
These machines are aimed at retailers like Tandy and Harvey Norman (which got a reprimand for advertising the machines a week early in the Sunday papers). Anson said, however, that other resellers will be able to sell them if they want to. But he feels the machines won't compete with DeskPro models because the features like inbuilt modem and high-quality sound don't sit well on corporate desktops.
"I'm still to be convinced that business users need CD drives," he explained.
The entry-level Presario 220 is a 166MHz machine with 33k modem, 16Mb of RAM, 1.6Gb hard disk, CD and sound card, and a comprehensive Microsoft software package.
With monitor, it will sell for less than $2000.
At the high end, the Presario 4800 series is meant for use in the executive den or playroom. It has JBL Pro speakers, Dolby Digital surround decoder, 233MHz Pentium processor, 32Mb RAM, 6.5Gb hard disk and MPEG-2 playback from the 24x CD-ROM drive.
Cost starts at $4299. One interesting feature of the machine is dedicated buttons on the outside of the machine which automatically take the user to the Internet or to a favourite application. The 1200 and 1600 Presario notebooks can also be used as eight-hour audio CD players.
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