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New HP offerings sport Windows Me, larger hard drives

Hewlett-Packard has quietly upgraded its home PC line to add the new Windows Me operating system along with slightly faster processors and larger hard drives.

Retail leader Hewlett-Packard has quietly upgraded its home PC line to add the new Windows Me operating system along with slightly faster processors and larger hard drives.

The new models, which already are online and in stores, should replace their predecessors during the next two weeks, according to an HP representative. The new Pavilions range from about $600 to $2,000 and have only minor changes from the models they replace.

HP, like IBM, has timed the refresh of its PC line to coincide with the launch of Windows Me, Microsoft's new consumer PC operating system. Gateway has been selling the new operating system in its computers for some time. Palo Alto, Calif.-based HP will also unfurl new notebooks next week.

With the exception of the entry-level $599 model, the new computers come with a rewritable CD drive. HP took over the lead in the consumer PC market from Compaq earlier this year, with much of the momentum coming from its early adoption of CD-RW drives. Other factors contributing to HP's success have been brand name recognition, some analysts have said, and promotional tie-ins with HP printers.

The entry-level 6735C replaces the $599 6730C, supplanting the 600-MHz Intel Celeron with a 633-MHz chip and offering a 15GB hard drive, compared with the earlier model's 10.2GB drive. At $799, the 6745C bests its similarly priced predecessor, the 6740C, with a slightly faster 700-MHz Celeron and 20GB hard drive.

Is Windows Me
for you? HP made similar tweaks to its 8700 series, which uses both Intel's Pentium III and Advanced Micro Devices' Athlon chip. For $1,299, the 8755C boasts an 800-MHz Pentium III and a 30GB hard drive. The $1,499 8765C offers a 900-MHz Athlon and a 45GB hard drive, while the $1,749 8775C sports a 933-MHz Pentium III and a 60GB hard drive. At the high end, the 8785C boasts the 1-GHz Pentium III and a high-speed FireWire port.

The new PCs come standard with Windows Millenium Edition. HP said the new models will remain through the holiday buying season, although the company may add additional models as well.