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Desktops

HP adds zip to desktop PCs

Hewlett-Packard is scheduled to launch its first Athlon 64 desktop at the upcoming Comdex show in Las Vegas. It will also preview a prototype business desktop.

Hewlett-Packard will present its first Athlon 64 desktop to PC enthusiasts this week and discuss a new concept PC for businesses. The PC giant will announce on Monday plans to offer a Compaq Presario 8000Z desktop with Advanced Micro Devices' Athlon 64 3200+ processor, making it the first major PC maker to offer the 64-bit capable chip in the United States. HP acquired Compaq last year and uses the brand name on some machines.

Starting Wednesday, customers will be able to order the Presario 8000Z from HP's HPShopping Web site or at retail store kiosks, HP executives said.

HP, which will launch the Presario 8000Z at this week's Comdex technology trade show in Las Vegas plans to use the desktop to serve a variety of PC enthusiasts, said James Oliver, product manager for configure-to-order Presario desktops.

"We'll have a pretty wide breadth of offerings of memory, graphics, hard drives, optical drives--you name it--on the 8000Z," Oliver said.

HP will also demonstrate a new business PC prototype called Troy to customers and reporters at the show.

Although the majority of desktop PCs for businesses and consumers are now priced below $1,000, analysts said the market for pricier models like the Presario 8000Z--which costs $1,239 before rebates--is still relatively healthy. PC makers continue to offer more-expensive desktops to both businesses and consumers because the machines' higher profit margins can offset their smaller unit shipments.

Indeed, the Presario 8000Z is the first of a family of HP desktops that will contain the Athlon 64 chip, Oliver said.

HP plans to offer an HP Pavilion desktop with the chip before the end of the year, via HPShopping and retail kiosks. The company will also begin stocking Athlon 64 desktops at retail and may offer AMD's top-of-the-line Athlon 64 FX processor in a gaming desktop sometime in the future, Oliver said.

"The (Athlon 64) FX 51--There's some value in that new technology, but at this point in time we felt the 3200+ fit our lineup much better," Oliver said. "While the 8000Z is great for gaming, it's not going to be our gaming platform. This is an overall performance platform."

The most basic 8000Z configuration available will pair the Athlon 64 3200+ processor with 256MB of PC 3200 RAM, an 80GB had drive, a DVD-ROM, an ATI Radeon 9200 graphics card and Microsoft's Windows XP Home Edition operating system. It will start at $1,239, before a $100 mail-in rebate, Oliver said.

A more typical configuration is likely to cost about $2,400, before the $100 rebate. It would include the Athlon 64 3200+, along with 512MB of RAM, a 160GB hard drive, a DVD burner, a secondary DVD-ROM, an Nvidia GeForce FX 5950 Ultra graphics board, a SoundBlaster Audigy 2 sound card, a pair of Klipsch 2.1 speakers and Microsoft's Windows XP Professional and Office 2003 Basic Edition, Oliver said.

HP typically ships its PCs in seven to 10 days. Customers who order a PC from HPShopping or an HP kiosk by Dec. 14 should receive it in time for Christmas, Oliver said.

Meanwhile, HP's Troy concept will give business customers a look at the company's latest efforts to add communications, such as telephone capabilities and videoconferencing, to the PC, said Louis Kim, director of business PC desktop products for the HP Personal Systems Group.

Troy is based on an earlier concept called Athens, but is closer to a production PC. Thus Troy uses existing hardware, such as HP's Integrated Work Center, which houses a small desktop and a flat panel display. Many of the new features it promises, such as handling telephone voice mail, reside under the hood. HP believes Troy will better illustrate to customers how it might add communications features to a PC in the future, Kim said.

"We wanted to come up with something that was based on components that were more readily available," Kim said.

PCs based on the Troy concept could begin shipping in as soon as one to two years, Kim said.