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Packard Bell offers $699 home PC

The PC maker debuts a low-cost box based on a Cyrix processor one week after saying it would use non-Intel chips for the first time.

Packard Bell announced a $699 consumer PC based on a Cyrix processor, one week after announcing it would incorporate less-expensive, non-Intel chips for the first time.

The Packard Bell 550 is priced at less than half the cost of a comparable system a year ago, according to the Sacramento-based company. The minitower configuration comes with a 233-MHz Cyrix MediaGX processor, 24MB of memory, a 2.1GB hard drive, a CD-ROM, and a 56-kbps modem.

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Packard Bell, which prides itself on being the first major PC maker to offer a sub-$1,000 system, says it is the first to go below the $700 mark as well. Two days ago, however, the smaller Acer came out with a identically priced business system.

Last week, Packard Bell revealed it would break with tradition and begin to incorporate Cyrix processors. Packard Bell has traditionally used only Intel chips, and the two companies' ties are in fact quite close. As an example, Intel loaned $500 million to Packard Bell earlier in the decade when the company found itself stuck with excess inventory.

At the time, analysts appraised the move as an effort to regain low-end market share recently claimed by Compaq, and said it could allow the company to introduce PCs for as little as $600.

Also today, Packard Bell introduced a $999 model with a 266-MHz 6X86MX chip, 48MB of memory, a 4.3GB hard drive, a CD-ROM, and a 56-kbps modem. Neither machine comes with a monitor.