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New Compaq Presarios hit store shelves

A major retailer is selling new, not-yet-announced Compaq Presarios.

CompUSA has already begun to sell, on a limited basis, Compaq's new Presario PCs, a new take on the popular desktop PC designed to match a consumer electronics product in ease of use.

Compaq is expected to officially announce the redesigned Presarios at a major product event in New York on July 15, introducing the machine against a backdrop of increasing competition in the consumer PC market from recent entrants such as Sony and Acer.

The new Presarios have a design with more curves than the squarish models sold to date and have been designed to much more closely parallel consumer electronics products in ease of use--taking a page right from Sony's PC strategy book.

For instance, two of the models, the Presario 4112 and 4704, have projecting areas on the front of the computer that hold a series of immediately accessible plastic buttons for starting up the Compaq Phone Center and for operating the CD-ROM drive, among other functions. The buttons buck a trend to put controls in software and show that Compaq is determined to make its consumer PCs as easy to use as possible.

The new machines also come with 33.6-kbps modems, slightly faster than the 28.8-kbps modems standard on most consumer PCs shipping today, as well as JBL speakers with 3D sound.

The 4112 model uses a 120-MHz Pentium processor and the 4704 a 133-MHz processor. Other models expected to be announced use Pentium processors running as fast as 200 MHz.

Prices range from around $1,800 to as high as $3,000 for feature-laden systems. The Windows 95-based systems come with software including Microsoft Works, Quicken SE Multimedia 5.0, and American Online.

Compaq is also expected to unveil a number of new, competitively priced corporate PC lines in the same time frame that inherit many of the high-end features of current DeskPro PCs. These machines will range in price from $1,400 to $3,500.