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HolidayBuyer's Guide
Tech Industry

Loaded $899 Umax PC is a first

The Mac cloner hits the low-cost market with a 200-MHz Pentium MMX system with 32MB of memory, a CD-ROM, a modem, and a monitor.

Umax Computer, a company better known for its Macintosh clones, recently offered and immediately sold out of a fully loaded PC for $899, but the company has plans to offer more low-cost systems.

Still new to the PC market, Umax sought to gauge the low-cost

Umax PC
Umax PC series
segment by advertising a groundbreaking 200-MHz Pentium MMX system. The simply titled Umax incorporated 32MB of memory, a 3.2GB hard drive, a CD-ROM, a 56-kbps modem, Windows 95 and other software, and a 15-inch monitor all for less than $900. The same system with a 233-MHz Pentium MMX chip sold for $999.

The company conceived the simply titled Umax PC as a closeout special, according to Peter Mehring, general manager of Umax PC division. "We had some excess inventory, and were looking for ways to better understand the market?to discover the sweet spots."

Taking orders by phone and over its Web site beginning January 10, Umax promptly sold out of the low-cost machines within two weeks. The company in fact oversold the Umax PC, but said it is honoring all of its sales orders.

While the $899 price point wasn't new to the industry, the array of componentry surpassed comparable offerings by price leaders such as Compaq, the most aggressive of the major vendors in the low-margin sub-$1,000 market. The Umax machines were "priced in some cases below cost," according to Mehring.

Umax won't immediately offer another sub-$1,000 system, Mehring said, but in February will being selling "aggressive configurations" of Pentium II-based systems for between $1,299 and $1,599. The top end of the range will feature a 233-MHz Pentium II system with a 17-inch monitor and other components.

Umax will likely offer another sub-$1,000 system in the second quarter, Mehring said. "We were caught off-guard. Next time we won't go in with a closeout sale but hopefully with an ongoing configuration."

Umax's aggressive pricing also extends to its line of Macintosh clones, as the company began offering a $999 model last year. Apple's Macintosh systems typically cost much more than comparable PCs, and Apple has been entirely absent from the sub-$1,000 market.