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HolidayBuyer's Guide
Tech Industry

Business PCs down to $699

IBM announces a $969 business PC based on Intel's low-cost Celeron, while Acer introduces a $699 system using the Pentium MMX chip.

IBM introduced a $969 business desktop based on Intel's low-cost Celeron processor while Acer came to market with a $699 Pentium MMX system, as PC makers increasingly pitch inexpensive systems at corporate users with simple computing needs.

IBM's PC 300GL uses a 266-MHz Celeron chip and comes with a 2.1GB hard drive and either Windows 95 or NT. Celeron, a Pentium II that lacks extra "cache" memory, was designed explicitly for low-cost computers and costs far less than a standard Pentium II chip. Cache memory increases performance.

The 300GL also features IBM Wake on LAN and LANClient Control Manager 2.0 software. These technologies allow information technology managers to perform a range of tasks from a remote location, including software downloads and BIOS updates, IBM said.

The lower pricing of business systems matches the reality of the corporate desktop world. In the space of a year, corporate buyers have become more segmented in their PC buying, according to Jim McGann, worldwide director of marketing for business PCs at IBM.

Rather than buy top-line PCs that get depreciated over a four-year period, customers are buying or leasing different PCs for different employee segments and then accounting for the cost in a two-year time frame.

"Customers have spent a lot of time profiling their environment. You can't imagine the number of customers I went out to a year ago that said, 'I just buy the very high end.' Everyone thought that was the easy way to do it," McGann said.

"I think customers' mentalities have changed. They're beginning to discover that there are users in their environments with basic computing requirements."

IBM will offer a Celeron-based PC 300GL with a 300-MHz processor when the 300-MHz version of the chip becomes available from Intel, the company said.

Meanwhile, Acer introduced its AcerEntra 3000 series, comprising two business-use desktops running a 233-MHz Pentium MMX chip and incorporating 32MB of memory and a CD-ROM drive.

The T357WC model comes with a 2.1GB hard drive for $699, while the T3572WT adds a larger hard drive, a modem, and stereo speakers for $799. Both systems are immediately available.

Reuters contributed to this report.