NEC is looking to expand the retail section of the channel, according to its marketing manager Isaku Sato. During the past three years NEC has seen the retail sector of the channel expand to the extent that it is now "the most important part of our growth", said Sato. "I strongly believe that the PC is the core," he said at a recent press conference. NEC's strategy for 1996 includes "securing our business based on the expanded platform" that is now available to the company after it began widening the channel in 1994 by increasing its product range, he said. Accordingly it has announced that it is upgrading a number of its PCs, and introducing new systems aimed at the retail market. Sato also said that as part of its market growth NEC wants to increase the number of retailers.
For users who need "the ultimate in workstation power", NEC has introduced the PowerMate Pro series, according to John Frank, the company's PC product manager. Targeted at users who want a high-end system at PC market prices, this range utilises Intel's Pentium Pro processor. Running at 150MHz, the PowerMate Pro 150 supports future Pentium Pro upgrades, with a Type 8 ZIF socket. Main memory is either 16 or 32Mb as standard, expandable to 128Mb. Primary cache consists of 16K on the processor, with 256K of secondary cache on the motherboard. The PowerMate Pro has large storage capabilities, six drive bays on the minitower, six expansion slots and infra-red data transfer capability based on Windows 95. Standard software is Windows NT. The system has strong multimedia capabilities, and includes a 6X IDE CD-Rom drive.
The PowerMate Pro 150 will be available by late March through NEC's ISA authorised dealer channel. RRP ranges from around $6,000 to $15,000, depending on configuration. But be warned - a P166 machine is on the cards, according to Frank.
For corporate and government users NEC offers its PowerMate V and P systems. This series includes infra-red data transfer, full-motion video capability and built-in network support. The systems come bundled with productivity software tools, including QA Plus for diagnostics, Intel Pro Share for data sharing, Puma TranXit for infra-red transfer, and Internet access tools.
Offered in various configurations, the PowerMate V system starts at $3,489 RRP for a Pentium 75MHz machine with 8Mb of RAM and a 630Mb hard drive, and goes up to $4,576 for the 100MHz configuration. It is also available in a 90MHz configuration, with 16Mb of RAM. The PowerMate P series offers 120 and 133MHz Pentium processors with pipeline burst cache and 2Mb of graphics memory. RRP starts at $6,098. Both series are available immediately.
The ValueMate series, available at both entry- and higher-level range, aims to provide "affordable computing" at the desktop level, Frank said. "Demand for ValueMate models has been strong, from corporate and government users at the one end, to small businesses, educational and home users at the other," he said. There are four machines in the range, running at 75, 100, 120 and 133MHz respectively. All four have an overdrive socket for future processor upgradability, a PCI local bus IDE, 24-bit True Colour, a BitBLT graphics accelerator and PCI local bus video. Standard memory is 8Mb, upgradable to 12Mb. Primary cache is 8K, while standard secondary cache is 256K. All are Plug-and-Play compatible and Energy Star-compliant, and come with Windows 95 or MS-DOS 6.22, and Windows for Workgroups 3.11. All multimedia systems are bundled with multimedia applications. The ValueMate Pentium 75 from $2,484 to $3,756, the 100 from $2,746 to $4,017, the 120 ranges from $3,211 to $4,753 and the 133 ranges from $3,444 to $4,986. All prices include a 15-inch monitor, keyboard, mouse and operating system.
NEC's mobile PC update, the 100MHz Versa 550D, is designed and priced for the small business, home and education markets, according to Morann Paterson, NEC's portable PC manager. The 550D has a Cyrix 5x86 100MHz processor, standard 8Mb of memory upgradable to 24Mb, 1Mb of VRAM, a standard cache of 16K and a 540Mb hard drive. Windows 95 comes factory-installed. RRP is $3,549. The Versa 550D will be available at the end of February through authorised resellers and major retail chains.
NEC has also brought out a phase change disk. It looks like a CD player, and can play normal CD-ROMs. It combines a Quad-speed CD and optical rewritable disk in one drive. At 650Mb, the phase change disk provides high capacity storage. Frank said that the disk provides an alternative to tape for small file servers, fast access to infrequently accessed data and holds easily transportable high-capacity files that can be used in multimedia presentations. Available in two interfaces, SCSI-2 and ATAP, the phase change disk drive is expected to retail at around $1,200, and Frank estimates that street price will be under $1,000. Disks will be about $130 each RRP.
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