Aimed at consumers, the MJ200X comes with a 200-MHz Pentium MMX processor, 32MB of memory, a 2GB hard drive, and a CD-ROM for $699.
MidWest also introduced a system meant for business use that adds a larger hard drive and built-in networking capabilities for the same price. Similarly configured systems from most major vendors are currently priced around $100 to $200 more.
International Data Corporation expects that the low-cost segment will compose as much as 20 percent of the volume in the PC market this year, with competition heating up in the business market in particular.
Sales of "white box" computers--lesser-known brands such as MidWest Micro--account for 25 to 30 percent of sales to small businesses, according to market research firm Dataquest.
While companies such as MidWest are offering inexpensive business systems, PC manufacturers like Hewlett-Packard, Dell Computer, Gateway, and Compaq Computer are starting to target this market as well.
IBM and Compaq are expected to soon release PCs under $800 using 200-MHz Pentium MMX systems. Pentium II-based systems will inch further under the $1,000 mark as well, thanks to upcoming price cuts on processors from Intel.
Compaq is already offering a slightly lower performance Presario consumer system (compared to the Midwest Micro box) with a 166-MHz Pentium MMX processor, a 2.1GB hard drive, and CD-ROM drive for $699 at some major Internet-based online resellers.