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Rebates, new desktops fill HP's stocking

A research report shows Hewlett-Packard's got a few more budget PCs up its sleeve, and plans some new rebates to boot for the holiday season.

Hewlett-Packard has quietly introduced four new desktops and improved its rebate program for the holiday season, according to a recent research report.

The ARS report says HP's new desktops, priced around $1,000 each, hail from the company's Compaq Presario and HP Pavilion lines. As recent HP product announcements have focused on high-end PCs with DVD burners and other features, this new group is targeted for a more budget consumer.

In addition, HP plans to offer rebates ranging from $50 to $200 to encourage consumers to combine their PC purchase with monitors, printers or other add-ons.

HP, which acquired Compaq Computer last May, plans to maintain the consumer PC brands from both companies to serve different segments of the market. In July, HP accounted for 35 percent of sales at U.S. retail stores, while the Compaq brand represented 22 percent, according to market research firm NPDTechworld.

The Compaq Presario PCs, geared for budget consumers, start at $399 after rebates. HP Pavilion PCs offer more multimedia options, and start at $499. Competitive pricing will be the key to winning over budget-conscious customers during the holiday season, analysts have said.

The ARS report describes the Compaq Presario 6310US, which includes an AMD Athlon XP 1800+ processor with 128MB of RAM, a 40GB hard drive and a CD-rewritable drive for $549. The Compaq Presario 6350US includes a 2.4GHz Intel Pentium 4 chip, 512MB of RAM, an 80GB hard drive and CD-RW and DVD-ROM drives for $899. The Compaq Presario 6370US comes with a 2.53GHz Pentium 4 and a 120GB hard drive for $1,049.

From the Pavilion family, the HP Pavilion 523n includes an Athlon XP 2200+ processor, 512MB of RAM, an 80GB hard drive and both a CD-RW and a DVD-ROM drive for $799.

The new rebate programs offer buyers a $50 rebate on many of the company's new PC models, including the Presario 6300US, 6310US, 6320US and Pavilion 503n, 513n as well as the 523n, 753n and 763n.

These rebates can be combined with the company's standard rebate of $150 for purchasing a desktop and monitor at the same time. HP will also offer another $50 rebate for purchasing certain monitors combined with certain machines, as well as for buying an HP printer and digital camera with a Pavilion desktop PC.

Competitors are also gearing up for the holiday season. Rival Emachines has lowered prices by offering PCs up front for what were originally post-rebate prices. At the other end of the spectrum, Sony released a number of new high-end desktops and notebooks this past week.