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Compaq plans raft of new PCs

The PC giant will revamp its consumer line when it releases printers under its own brand and new Presarios.

Compaq Computer will revamp its consumer K6-based computing line tomorrow when it releases printers under its own brand name for the first time in years, along with a new fleet of Presario PCs.

The printer-PC rollout, set for New York, will be one of Compaq's major consumer releases this year, said sources close to the company. The Houston-based PC manufacturer will release Presarios that use the K6 from Advanced Micro Devices, the Celeron processor from Intel, and Pentium II processors running at 350 MHz and 400 MHz.

Compaq released corporate computers that use the faster Pentium II last month, but has not yet unveiled consumer models.

The announcement will also mark the latest stage in the "bundlemania" that's sweeping the industry. To entice customers and avoid further PC price cuts, major manufacturers are offering customers special deals on PC-monitor-printer deals.

Hewlett-Packard is already offering a consumer PC bundle for $999 which includes a monitor and a rebate of $150 with a printer.

Compaq is expected to offer similar deals. The Houston-based PC giant is getting low-end ink jet printers from Lexmark, according to a Compaq spokesman, who said details of the strategy will be announced tomorrow. Compaq previously competed in the high-end printer market in the early part of the decade but left because of broad losses.

HP, the printer market's overwhelming leader, has lately been bundling its consumer Pavilion models with printers and other devices. The strategy has helped it become No. 2 in the home PC market.

For example, with the purchase of HP Pavilion 3265 or 8250 consumer PC models, a monitor, and one peripheral from a selection of printers, scanners, or multifunction devices, consumers can get a $100 to $150 rebate. At Circuit City a system with 233-MHz Pentium MMX, 32MB of memory, a 2.1GB hard disk drive, a CD-ROM drive, modem, 14-inch monitor, and color ink jet printer is being advertised in some areas for $999.

"I think [Compaq has] recognized that HP is in a unique position in this business," said Jef Holove, communications manager for Home Products Division, of HP's peripherals product lineup. Customers are becoming more interested in going to just one company for service and support needs, he said.

Consumers who purchase a Compaq Presario 2254 or 5000 model along with a 14-inch monitor and a color ink jet printer will be eligible for a $75 rebate, according to reports. The purchase of a larger monitor will bring a bigger rebate.