At the sprawling Comdex trade show next week in Las Vegas, companies will try to convince you to make your next TV a PC, while small PC makers will hawk sub-$700 computers.
Compaq and Panasonic, among others,
will show off hardware next week for viewing digital TV (DTV) on a PC, a
convergence trick that the computing industry hopes will establish
computers as one of the first big markets for receiving high-quality
Early next year Compaq will offer the hardware--which consists of two
add-in cards--as options for its Presario line of consumer PCs. Pricing for
the two circuit boards is expected to range between $800 and $900, Compaq
said. A digital high-definition TV, by contrast, will initially cost well
A personal computer is almost a ready-made DTV as the technology is already digital. All that is needed is some additional hardware to receive the signal for viewing on a computer display.
Intel and Philips Semiconductors are also trying to promote
DTV on a PC. In addition to a DTV
tuner card, Philips will be
demonstrating a prototype DTV tuner that plugs into a computer via an IEEE
1394 high speed connector.
Despite these exhibits, many of the major vendors will not be presenting
new consumer PCs at Comdex. Instead, a number of smaller players such as Emachines will try to make an
impact in their absence.
Emachines, for example, will be showing its eTower 266 and eTower 300
systems at Comdex, both of which will hit stores the week of November 16.
Emachines has lined up Office Depot and Best Buy to distribute its systems.
The eTower 266 features a Cyrix M2
"performance rated" 266-MHz processor, 14-inch monitor, 32MB of memory, and a
2.1GB hard drive for $499. The Emachine 300 features a 300-MHz Intel Celeron processor, 14-inch monitor,
32MB of memory, and a 3.2GB hard drive for $599.
"There's no doubt about it, we're selling at or below cost," said Steve
Dukker, CEO of Emachines, adding that he expects to begin making money as
component prices continue to drop next year. "We made the determination
that in launching a new brand, you can spend $5 million on advertising or
you can take that money and invest it in the bill of materials."
In the back of the booth, the company is expected to show the "eNote"
notebook which will be introduced in the first quarter of 1999. The eNote
will include a 13.3-inch active matrix display, 266MHz MMX Pentium
processor, 32MB of memory, a 3.2GB hard drive, for $1,999.
Dukker's startup will not be showing its eStation, the integrated PC and
15-inch monitor is strikingly similar in looks to the Apple iMac. The eStation is also expected
in stores early next year.
HP already played its cards
in the consumer PC game in October. HP is now offering systems such as the
Pavilion 6355, which features a 333-MHz Celeron processor and 64MB of
memory, for $899, and will try to build on its momentum going into the
Christmas sales season.
IBM is the top big-name vendor in the game of lowball so far for the
Christmas season--Big Blue is offering a $599 PC with a
Cyrix-compatible chip with performance equivalent to a 300-MHz Intel
system, the company said.
Compaq is also rolling out new AMD-based Presarios in the Comdex time frame.