dramatically revamped Presario consumer PCs in two weeks and a new line of PC-TVs later this year as the number-one computer vendor
attempts to ensconce itself firmly in America's living room.
The Presarios to be rolled out July 14 in New York will include a wide range of new audio and video technologies that will further blur the line between PCs and home entertainment appliances. The models will also include high-end 3D
graphics and 200-MHz Pentium processors.
"Compaq is one of the few PC companies that can make the transition to convergence
products," said Bruce Stephens, an
analyst at International Data Corporation, a market research firm in Framingham, Massachusetts. He noted also that Compaq is establishing strong ties with retailers, a practice more typical of a consumer electronics company than a PC manufacturer.
The new Presarios will feature:
--a videophone based on Intel's
Proshare technology that will use a Universal Serial Bus camera attached to
the PC monitor
--a new type of high-speed modem developed with Lucent Technologies, the former systems and technology divisions of AT&T and Bell Labs
--a "Power VR" 3D graphics chip from NEC
--special JBL speakers for 3D sound
--an Intercast card, on certain models sold at CompUSA outlets, for
watching television shows that broadcast TV signals and complementary Web pages.
Compaq may also introduce a novel design that uses a flat-panel liquid
crystal display screen instead of a CRT monitor.
And the company isn't stopping with upgrades of existing boxes. Compaq will debut a wholly separate line of PC-TVs later this year
based on a design that it has been working on with Thompson Electronics, which manufactures RCA and GE television sets.
"This [new line] will take better advantage of Intercast [a hybrid Internet-broadcast technology developed by Intel] and
maximize use of cable to the home," a Compaq spokesman said.
The consumer market offensive signals that Compaq is not
standing still while Sony makes its grand entrance into the consumer PC market.
"Yes, Sony has strength in consumer electronics, but we don't know how that
will translate into PCs and the convergence of PCs and consumer electronics," a Compaq spokesman said. "This is a whole new market."
Late this summer, Compaq will begin shipping Wonder Tools software
and hardware peripherals for children. For example, using the software and a
special "driving wheel," analogous to
a joystick, children will be able to maneuver a virtual submarine
under water, the company said.
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