IBM Cuts Costs, Size of PCs

IBM this week is firing another shot in the battle of the low-cost PC. Big Blue is announcing a line of PC 300 desktop systems aimed primarily at budget-minded small businesses, with prices starting at $US679 (not including monitor).

IBM claims the system unit is one of the smallest in the industry. Measuring 3.5 inches by 12 inches by 15 inches, it's about the size of a typical VCR, so you can place it inside or underneath furniture. (A "micro-tower" case is also standard with some models.)The 12 standard business configurations of the PC 300 will be available in mid-May, and will be sold both by dealers and direct through IBM's Web site.

The entry level $US679 system is based on an Intel Celeron-500, and includes 32MB of memory and a 5GB UltraDMA/66 hard drive. The top of the PC 300 line, which sells for $US1339, runs a Pentium III-667 and includes 128MB of memory and a 15GB hard drive. Other models are available with a 533-MHz or 600-MHz Celeron or a Pentium III-600, plus 64MB of memory and a 10GB hard drive.

All desktop versions of the PC 300 include a CD-ROM drive, but it's optional with the micro-tower case. All include a 10/100 Ethernet adapter, and since most business users connect to the Internet through a network, the models do not include a modem.

For expansion purposes, the desktop case includes three free PCI slots and three drive bays. Two Universal Serial Bus ports and a single parallel and serial port are also standard.

The PC 300 line ships with Windows 98 SE preloaded. Applications include Lotus SmartSuite Millennium, Access IBM, PC-Doctor, ConfigSafe, Norton AntiVirus, Netscape Communicator, and Update Connector. Windows NT 4.0 is available as an option.

Something to Take Home, Too

IBM also introduced two Aptiva versions of the PC 300 for home users. The Aptiva E series is available with a Celeron-533 processor and a 10GB hard drive for $US750, or with a Celeron-600 and a 15GB hard drive for $US830. Both include 64MB of memory, a CD-ROM drive, and a 56K modem, and are only available in a micro-tower case. External speakers are included. (Business models don't include speakers.)In addition to Windows 98 SE and Lotus SmartSuite, the home versions of the PC include Quicken 98, WorldBook, IBM Top Page, and IBM ViaVoice.

The PC 300 business models include a one-year limited warranty with on-site service, and three years coverage on parts. The company also offers leasing options for small businesses. The Aptiva E Home PCs have a one-year warranty, which doesn't include on-site service.

IBM also announced a new multimedia monitor matched to the PC 300 business models. The 17-inch (15.9 inch viewable area) E74m includes built-in speakers, and is available in the standard off-white or a "stealth" black case. It sells for $US279.

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