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New Aptivas aimed at home PC market

IBM will launch new Aptivas that could put it at the head of the consumer PC pack.

IBM will launch a revamped line of Aptiva consumer PCs early next week that could put IBM at the head of the home computer pack in terms of innovation and technology.

The new Aptivas will initially be priced between $2,000 to $3,000, according to sources close to the company, and will include such cutting-edge home PC features such as:
--Universal Serial Bus (USB) plug-and-play technology.
--new 200-MHz Pentium processors.
--technology that allows control of electrical appliances via the PC.
--advanced 3D graphics.

IBM will be one of the first PC vendors to use USB technology on PCs targeted at the home market. USB paves the way for true plug-and-play on personal computers because all new USB hardware, such as joysticks and scanners, is plugged in externally and recognized on the fly by Windows 95 without having to install the internal add-in boards that add cost and are notoriously difficult to set up.

IBM will also use the 200-MHz Pentium processors slated to be announced early next week by Intel. With the new chip, processor speeds in the Aptiva line--and the rest of the consumer market--will jump from the current limit of 166 MHz to 200 MHz.

IBM will also include innovative technology for controlling home electrical appliances by using the Aptiva as a control hub of sorts. Dubbed Home Director, the system allows users to regulate heat, lights, and services such as home security systems. The company said it will offer software and hardware that will let users set this up in the home with relative ease.

On the 3D graphics front, the Aptivas will integrate ATI Technologies' new Rage 3D chip, one of the hottest 3D graphics processors on the market, putting IBM in the lead for introducing advanced 3D graphics into the home.

The prices for these new models should drop even further later in the year, sources said.

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