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Compaq rolls out Radio Shack outlets

Compaq's store-within-a-store make good on an agreement announced last January.

    Compaq formally launched its "store-within-a-store" retail outlets in Radio Shack franchises, offering four consumer models that begin at $899 and feature Internet access.

    Making good on an agreement announced last January, Compaq has rolled out Creative Learning Centers in some 4,100 U.S. stores. By the middle of next month, Compaq will be present in 5,000 Radio Shack franchises, the Houston-based PC vendor said in a statement.

    The tie-up initially attracted attention because it ousted IBM from the consumer electronics retail chain, one of America's largest.

    Compaq sees its exclusive alliance with Radio Shack as an unfettered opening in the consumer market. "This program was designed to offer consumers who don't consider themselves computer experts the extra time and attention they might need," said Eckhard Pfeiffer, Compaq's CEO, in a prepared statement.

    Radio Shack sale staff have been extensively briefed on the four Presario systems, three desktops and a laptop, the statement said. All are very similar to models Compaq discounted last week.

    The desktops include a $100 mail-in rebate, part of Compaq's Easy Internet Access program. The promotion aims to encourage customers to sign up on a trial basis with GTE, Compaq's preferred service provider, and touts 50 free hours.

    The Radio Shack line begins with the Presario 2510, which goes for $899 after rebate. The desktop comes with a 300-MHz AMD K6 chip, a CD-ROM, and a modem.

    The Presario 5032 incorporates a 300-MHz Intel Pentium II, more memory, a larger hard drive, and an Iomega Zip drive for $1,399.

    At the high end, the 5162 comes with a 400-MHz Pentium II and a 100-MHz system bus, which is speedier than the 66-MHz bus found on most consumer systems. A bus is the critical data pathway between the processor and main memory.

    The desktop system also incorporates a DVD-ROM drive and is cable-modem ready.

    Similar to a portable unveiled just last month, the Presario 1230 notebook incorporates a 233-MHz Cyrix MediaGX chip, a 12.1-inch screen, and a 3.2GB hard drive.

    All of the desktop models come with a software bundle geared toward children.