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HP cuts business PC prices

Hewlett-Packard also reduces prices on a spanking new Pentium III computer, one of the first to drop below $1,500.

Hewlett-Packard cut prices on its business PC lines resulting in models now priced as low as $699 as Intel prepares to cut prices on its chips again and introduce speedier Celeron and Pentium III processors.

HP also reduced prices on a spanking new Pentium III computer, one of the first to drop below $1,500. HP's price cuts affect both its Brio and Vectra business PC lines.

In what may presage price cuts by other PC makers, a Brio PC with an Intel Celeron 333-MHz processor, a 4.3 GB hard drive, a network card, and Windows 98 is now expected to sell for about $699, a reduction of 14 percent, the company said.

Intel is slated to introduce a faster version of the Celeron chip later this month, which is expected to run at 466 MHz. Intel will also announce its new 810 chipset at that time, which fuses a graphics processor with a standard PC chipset. This new integrated chipset design is expected to drive down desktop PC prices.

The chipmaker is also expected to slash prices on Pentium III processors this month and soon roll out a 550-MHz version of the chip.

HP will also cut prices on a higher-end Vectra model with a speedier 400-MHz Celeron chip to about $990, a decrease of 12 percent. This Vectra has an 8.4 GB hard-disk drive, 64MB of memory, a CD-ROM drive, and Windows 95.

A Pentium II-based HP Vectra with a 400-MHz processor, 6.4 GB hard drive, 64MB of memory, and a Matrox AGP graphics subsystem will now sell for an estimated $1,214, down 11 percent.

A recently introduced model with Intel's newest Pentium III processor running at 450 MHz and other features identical to the Pentium II model will fall to about $1,480, bringing the price of a Pentium III-based HP desktop PC system below $1500.

Separately, HP unveiled a new series of line-impact printers at prices that are an average 6 percent lower than previous LP printers. The LP series is designed for long life and continuous operation, and they are particularly suited for manufacturing, data-center, factory, and other high-use environments.