The desktop limbos under $200

As predicted, this year's back-to-school shopping season is heating up to be a bargain hunter's dream.

Until July 23, Circuit City is now offering a Windows-based PC from Hewlett-Packard for $198.99, according to its weekly ad circulars. The machine comes with a 335 Celeron from Intel, 256MB of memory, a 40GB hard drive and a DVD-ROM. The machine once retailed for $649, but it comes with $450 worth of rebates.

Shipping is free, unlike with the $249 PC on HP's web site (shipping costs $99), because you have to buy it at the store. HP has also promoted $499 notebooks. Bargains like this, sometimes run for short periods of time, exist to gauge consumer interest.

Meanwhile, CompUSA is touting the AOL PC this week. It comes with a 17-inch monitor and printer and sells for $199. Consumers, however, have to take out a one year subscription with AOL.

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