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NEC now into workstations

The Japan-based computer manufacturer makes its belated jump into the NT workstation market with 333-MHz Pentium II models.

NEC is making its belated jump into the NT workstation market today with its first line of 333-MHz Pentium II personal workstations.

NEC's entry into this PC sector comes close to a year and a half after companies such as Hewlett-Packard and Compaq Computer introduced workstations based around the Intel-Windows NT architecture.

Since that time, NT workstations have become a virtual mainstay in the computing world. Although Unix systems still outsell NT workstations, sales of NT workstations are growing at a much faster rate, according to most studies, and invading the most technically demanding computing markets.

"We see it as a very growth-oriented market," said David Sorenson, product manager for NEC's computer systems division. "With so many Unix applications being ported over to NT, we felt this was an opportunity we want to make sure we're involved in."

NEC's first workstation, dubbed the PowerMate Professional 9000, is primarily aimed at graphics professionals. Computer-aided design and media creation are two of the target markets identified by the company. From $2,400 to $6,000, the new machines are priced slightly lower than competitors' offerings.

Analysts said NEC's move was necessary to fill out the company's product line. "The worst thing you could do is to say to your customer, 'I don't have that,'" said Dan Dolan, a workstation analyst for Dataquest. "If they are getting client demand for it, they might as well get their machines in there."

Fine-tuning the details may end up being one of the more significant aspects of the launch, Dolan continued. "The most important thing is knowing what your clients need...You need to make sure the financial applications are bundled in, you have to be able to tie together more than one monitor, and you have to have your support issues resolved," he added.

The PowerMate Professional 9000 series features one or two 333-MHz Pentium II processors and up to 128 MB of memory. Hard drives range to as large as 9.1GB. The workstations will be available through NEC's direct order program, NEC-NOW, as well as selected resellers, and begin shipping March 1.