Charcoal grey exterior, multimedia interior: the new generation Aptiva, the S series, was launched by IBM earlier this month at a Star Trek meets Ab Fab-style production.
More than 300 resellers and retailers witnessed the unveiling of the latest Aptivas, models Q81 and Q91, at product launches held in Sydney over three nights. The rest of retail Australia got a taste for the Aptiva S at launches held around the country in the lead-up to its May 1 release.
Spectators had the chance to road test the new machines and get the lowdown on the finer points of selling them - "We're emphasising a few key points," said Rutland Smith, retail and distribution channel manager, IBM PC Company. "Firstly the design, which is obviously fairly innovative and attractive, secondly the space saving efficiencies.
"The Aptiva S was designed in relation to some market research we did that said customers were sick of having clutter on their desktops; they wanted a machine that would reduce the clutter - that's what the S series does and that's what we are highlighting to our resellers."
Both models feature a split system design - a slim pop-up media console to sit under the monitor, housing the diskette drives, CD- ROM drive and power controls, and a separate CPU - the mini tower which may be placed up to two metres away. The speakers and microphone are integrated into the monitor, and while the computer is not in use, the media console is closed, providing a storage area for the keyboard and instant desk space. The Aptiva S is available to all in the IBM channel, although Smith said it is expected the product will sell primarily through retailers.
"It is a product specifically designed for the home, and consequently we will sell more volume through the retail channel than the reseller channel," he said.
"We think there will be a lot of demand for it - it's been exceptionally successful in the US and Japan - in fact we have orders coming out of our ears at the moment," Smith said.
The PCs - Q81 RRP $4499 and Q91 RRP $5499 - are aimed at higher income families, executives, computer enthusiasts and end users looking for "the interactive game and education experience", said Smith.
The Aptiva S comes with Pentium MMX processors, the 166MHz for the Q81 and 200MHz for the Q91, with 3.1Gb hard drive, 16x CD-ROM, 2Mb video memory, arcade-quality graphics, multimedia monitors (15in and 17in), and an integrated subwoofer for the Q91 (optional for the Q81). Also included is IBM's Total Image Video utilising MPEG video compression technology, making available full-motion, full-screen video.
In the communications arena, the models contain a 33.6Kbit/sec data modem (14.4Kbit/sec fax modem), speakerphone, answerphone, Internet connection phone, and e-mail through Microsoft Exchange. Aptiva S operates on Windows 95, and is bundled with a range of software and CD titles: kids games, education tools, Lotus SmartSuite, MS Works, and IBM's AntiVirus are a few of such included.
IBM Tel 13 2426