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NEC releases sleek but pricey notebook

The company introduces a stylish laptop for the corporate market that bucks the trend among PC makers of dropping prices.

NEC released a sleek laptop for the corporate market Monday that bucks the trend among PC makers of dropping prices.

The $3,399 Versa TXi ignores the current pricing war among major PC manufacturers, such as Dell Computer, Compaq Computer and Hewlett-Packard. Dell and HP, for example, recently introduced consumer notebooks for about $1,000 in an effort to expand their market share.

Once considered a major PC player in the United States, NEC has fallen out of the race for market dominance. In the fourth quarter of last year, market researcher IDC said NEC didn't break into the top 10 for U.S. notebook shipments in the corporate market.

"NEC is going after the high end of the market to avoid the pricing battle among the Dells and Compaqs of the world," IDC analyst Alan Promisel said.

ARS analyst Matt Sargent agreed, adding that a high-end notebook in this climate "is not the brightest thing to do. But their key markets (government and education) are fairly immune to market changes. And because they have very few customers, they don't necessarily have to play by the general rules of the game."

Promisel said NEC shipped about 34,000 notebooks for the U.S. corporate market in the fourth quarter.

NEC joins a number of manufacturers, such as Compaq and Apple Computer, that are pushing into the "thin and light" notebook market.

The silver-colored, magnesium-encased Versa TXi is 1.26 inches thick and weighs less than four pounds. The notebook takes the high-end approach, offering features such as a combination DVD-ROM and CD-rewritable drive, 128MB of memory and a 20GB hard drive. It comes with a FireWire port, three USB ports and a 12.1-inch active-matrix screen. It has a 750MHz Pentium III processor with power-saving SpeedStep technology.

NEC is selling a notebook with a Transmeta Crusoe processor in Japan and the United States.