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IBM rounds out NC line

Big Blue announces systems with greater capabilities than its original network computer.

IBM (IBM) filled out its network computer line today, announcing two new systems with greater capabilities than its original offering.

The Network Station Series 300 and Series 1000 joined the Network Station Series 100, which has been shipping since March. The two new NCs offer more complex data browsing and application options, as well as more compatibility with Internet standards.

Network computers (NCs) rely on centralized servers to handle the storage of data and applications, and generally they lack hard drives, add-in slots, floppy drives, and CD-ROM drives. The systems download both their operating system and applications from central servers. Designed for use on corporate networks, NCs are intended to reduce purchase and maintenance costs for low-end computer applications such as word processing and database access.

The Network Computer standard was put forward originally by Oracle, but the specific configurations are determined by each individual hardware maker.

The new Network Station Series 300, available immediately, is being touted by IBM as its "Internet network computer" for business users who need access to NC applications as well as information on the Internet and internal company intranets. The Series 300 is priced at $799.

The Network Station 1000 is a more powerful unit specifically designed for businesses planning to use Java-based applications such as those being developed by IBM subsidiary Lotus. Java applications are an attractive option to companies that need to develop custom applications for use on several hardware platforms. The Series 1000 will be available later this year; pricing on the new unit has not yet been announced.

Both of the systems closely replicate the appearance of the original Series 100, a slim, dark blue mini-tower case about the size of a large hardcover book. The 300 and 1000 are each a bit larger than the 100, with the 1000 being the largest in the series.