Once again the new breed of top-speced PCs is being sold through retail first. A number of major manufacturers have just released their latest "all bells and whistles" PCs, aimed squarely at the high-end of the home market. Observers believe that these machines show what will be standard on the next generation of COGO machines.
The new HP Pavilion range of home PCs being launched in Australia in the next few weeks shows what we can expect. Standard equipment across the range includes: only Pentium processors, from 100 to 150MHz; hard disks from 850Mb to 1.6Gb; integral 28.8K modem with speaker phone and answering machine; MPEG video; 15" hi-res monitor with detachable Altec Lansing hi-fi speakers; and a hex-speed CD drive. Two of the four models come with 16Mb RAM standard. Base RRP for the four models ranges from $3,700 to $5,700.
HP only expects to sell these machines through large retail outlets, though similar high-end retail models from IBM, Compaq and Acer are also available to traditional resellers.
Why do observers believe these machines preview coming COGO machines? Hardware MPEG will be useful for videoconferencing and desktop video such as training, because otherwise the processor would slow dramatically. Although inbuilt modems may not be necessary, we'll soon see PC integration with enterprise-wide phone systems. CD-drives are no longer a luxury, but a necessity. Even features like voice recognition are beginning to look less like gimmicks and more like useful tools.