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Monorail business PC for $849

Monorail, a start-up known for its space-saving, low-cost consumer computers, is pushing into the corporate market.

Monorail, a start-up PC company known for its space-saving, low-cost consumer computers, today announced that it is pushing into the corporate market with the release of an $849 minitower model.

The announcement comes in the wake of news that IBM and Compaq both have sub-$800 corporate PCs in the works.

Going against such PC giants, Monorail says the expansion of its NPC line of low-end business computers is made possible by a business model that depends upon outsourcing services and tasks "that don't have a direct benefit for the customer" in the making of its computers, according to vice president of marketing Andrew Watson.

Monorail's new line of corporate computers support Intel's Wired for Management initiative, a program structured to reduce the costs of business computing by developing tools to configure, manage, and repair networked PCs. The NPCs are preconfigured with Intel's LANDesk 3.11, a suite of network management applications.

Monorail contracts with SCI to manufacture the minitowers, Federal Express for distribution, and outsources its customer support services. Watson says that by outsourcing services and leaving research and development to Intel and Microsoft, Monorail saves enough money to consistently beat its competition on the price front.

"The beauty of our model is that since we only go to a top-tier company like FedEx for distribution, they can scale quickly with us," Watson said. "As our volume grows, they [FedEx] can easily scale up with us. If our business doubles or triples, our costs go down even further."

Monorail's lowest-end corporate PC has a price point of $849. It comes with a 200-MHz Pentium MMX processor, a 2GB hard drive, and 16MB of memory.

Further up the line, the Monorail NPC 5200 with a 200-MHz Pentium II, a 3GB hard drive, 32MB of memory, and a CD-ROM drive has an estimated retail price of $999. The Monorail 7000 with a 233-MHz Pentium II processor, a 3GB hard drive, and 32MB of memory is priced at $1,249. The Monorail 7200 with a 266-MHz Pentium II, 32MB of memory, and a 4GB hard drive is priced at $1,499.

Watson says that he expects Monorail's corporate prices will continue to slide, perhaps as low as $699. "Corporate PC buyers have been picking up the tab for consumer PC buyers for a long time. We see a lot more room for prices to drop," he said.