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Notebook maker takes swing at desktops

WinBook, a little-known manufacturer of portable PCs, is attempting to maneuver into the desktop market by offering top performance for relatively low prices.

WinBook, a notebook manufacturer based in Ohio, is attempting to maneuver into the desktop PC market.

The third-tier laptop maker announced this week a new line of inexpensive desktops designed to offer top performance, with fast processors and large amounts of memory, for relatively low prices.

The new machines, sold under the PowerSpec brand, offer a range of Advanced Micro Devices and Intel processors. Prices start at $399.

WinBook felt it was missing out by not offering desktops, a company representative said. Now its salespeople will have a full line of computers to offer customers, many of whom plan to buy desktops in the near future, the representative said.

WinBook, a division of Micro Electronics, has been selling notebook for 10 years, but entering the desktop fray could still prove difficult for the company. Competition is fierce, with giants such as Dell Computer, eMachines and Hewlett-Packard all battling for market share.

PC prices also continue to fall, putting pressure on profitability. Recent research from NPDTechworld shows that the average prices for desktops sold at retail in the United States fell to an all-time low of $717 in February.

HP, for example, recently launched a new desktop starting at $319 after a $50 rebate.

But WinBook, which priced its desktops to be competitive, asserts that it can win business by leveraging its brand name and the sales channels provided by retail chain Micro Center, another division of parent company Micro Electronics. The PowerSpec name itself comes from the parent company.

The new WinBook PowerSpec desktops will be available at Micro Center stores and also online via Micro Center's Web site and via WinBook's own site.

WinBook's PowerSpec line includes eight models, with prices ranging from the $399 to $1,599.

The entry-level $399 PowerSpec 4982 offers an AMD Athlon XP 1800+ processor, 128MB of RAM, a 20GB hard drive and a CD-ROM.

A midrange PowerSpec 8707 features a 2.4GHz Intel Pentium 4 chip, 256MB of RAM, a 40GB hard drive, a CD burner and built-in graphics from Silicon Integrated Systems. Its price is $599.

WinBook's top-of-the-line PowerSpec 9325 includes a 3GHz Pentium 4, 1GB of RAM, a 120GB hard drive, a CD burner, a DVD drive and an Nvidia GeForce4 Ti 4200 graphics board. It sells for $1,599.

The machines will only be sold in the United States.