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Cheap Apple pickings at Circuit City

Buyers rack up good deals as Circuit City goes through its remaining inventory of iMacs and iBooks after the retailer and Apple Computer announce they're ending their relationship.

The end of Macs at Circuit City is adding up to some great deals for those who take the last few machines off the retailer's hands.

Macintosh buyers across the country are reporting saving several hundred dollars off the cost of a new Mac. While there are no flat-panel iMacs--Circuit City never got any--there have been some deals on new iBooks as well as the old-style iMacs.

Apple Computer and Circuit City announced in February that they were ending their relationship. The retailer said it would sell its remaining inventory.

Mac buyers on enthusiast Web sites like PowerBook Central reported snapping up iMacs that still sell for $1,000 at other retailers for as little as $550 at Circuit City, and iBooks that sell for $1,200 for $750.

"I got really lucky and was able to buy two Macs," wrote one PowerBook Central reader, who bought an open box 600MHz iMac with a CD burner for $549 and a display model iBook with a combination CD-RW/DVD drive for $1,000.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, several stores reported being down to their last model, often a display unit, with some stores completely sold out.

Circuit City spokesman Bill Cimino said that appears to be the case elsewhere as well.

"We are pretty much sold through with most of the Apple inventory," Cimino said. "There are still some out there, but they are few and far between."

Apple has had an on-again, off-again relationship with Circuit City. Most recently, the Mac maker had been selling the iMac and iBook under an arrangement that started in July 2000. That marked a reversal of a move made two years earlier, in which Apple pulled out of Circuit City, as well as several other retailers, to focus on its efforts with CompUSA.

Now the Mac maker is back in a similar boat, having ended its relationship with Sears last year. For now, Apple is selling through CompUSA, independent Mac dealers, the Apple online store, as well as through a growing crop of Apple-owned retail outlets.