PC cracks the $US100 barrier

PCs with three-digit price tags are becoming common, if not dominant in today's market, but have the days of a system priced less than $US100 really arrived?

According to PC World Online, Total Peripherals Inc (TPI) in the US will sell you the Imagic Internet PC at an after-rebate price of $US99.

For that price you get a PC with a 400MHz AMD K6-II, 32MB of RAM, a 6.4GB hard drive, a 15-inch monitor, a 56Kbit/sec modem, an up to 44X CD-ROM drive, and software. Preloaded are Windows 98 and Corel's Professional Office Suite. You also get a $US99 coupon that can be redeemed for hardware upgrades.

Although you have to shell out $US499 initially for the Imagic Internet PC, you'll get a $US400 mail-in rebate from Microsoft when you subscribe to the MSN (Microsoft Network) Internet access service for three years. That costs $US790.20, or $US21.95 a month.

For a little more dough -- $US299 after rebate -- you can opt for a configuration with a 17-inch monitor. Or if you want a heftier system with a Pentium III-450, 64MB of RAM, and a 13GB hard drive, it'll cost $US399 after rebate. But with any of the configurations, a few extra costs emerge.

In order to be eligible for the rebate, you must buy the PC on or before December 31, 1999, and complete all necessary paperwork before January 31 next.

This deal comes on the heels of a similar MSN promotion. Microsoft paired in July with Lan Plus to offer customers a 400MHz PC in exchange for subscribing to three years of MSN internet access for $US647.64, or $US17.99 per month.

"Partnering with companies helps the consumer," says a Microsoft representative, who would not comment on details of the arrangements with the system vendors.

MSN is currently the sole ISP offering this service with TPI's Imagic Internet PC, according to Bob Lens, TPI's business development manager.

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