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New NECs do network

The PowerMate Enterprise line--among the first build-to-order computers from NEC--stresses network-based management.

NEC Computer Systems has announced one of the first build-to-order computers available through its new NEC Now direct sales model.

The new line offers network-ready, mid-range business systems that offer many of the manageabilty features first seen in Net PCs.

The PowerMate Enterprise line is available with Intel Pentium processors running at 166 and 200 MHz, as well as Pentium MMX chips running at 166 to 233 MHz. The systems also include up to 64MB of memory and 6.4GB hard drives. All of the new systems include an Intel Ethernet card with Wake-On-LAN capability to allow remote boot-up of machines by network administrators.

The systems feature network-based management systems for warning network administrators of hardware problems, as well as easier remote maintenance for tasks such as software installation and upgrading. Additionally, the systems have internal hardware to detect potential hard drive problems. When sensors find problems with the hardware, administrators are automatically notified over the network before the machine actually fails.

The PowerMate Enterprise Managed PCs are DMI 2.0-compliant, allowing them to be managed alongside other net-manageable computers such as Net PCs.

The network management capabilities are designed to reduce total cost of ownership, or TCO, which has become a buzzword for corporate computer buyers over the last year. It has become apparent that an increasing percentage of the cost of a system comes after the initial purchase, in the form of maintenance and management.

The new systems cost from $1,100 to $2,750 without a monitor. With an NEC 15-inch monitor, they cost $1,430 to $3,080.

Also today, NEC announced the NEC Direction line of computers, targeted at small-office and home-office users. Starting at $1,799 with a monitor, the systems use Pentium MMX and Pentium II processors.

The Direction line will also be available only directly from NEC, via the Web as well as by phone.