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Compaq unveils low-cost business PC

Compaq Computer takes a swipe at rival Dell Computer this week with its new low-cost Evo D300v desktop PC.

Compaq Computer took a swipe at rival Dell Computer this week with a new low-cost desktop PC.

Compaq says its new Evo D300v is aimed at offering the lowest price possible for a corporate PC that can still run office applications reliably.

The D300v starts at $499, making it competitive with several low-price Optiplex desktop PCs from rival Dell. Dell began making aggressive moves to increase its PC market share late last year, relying on deep price cuts to help sell its PCs.

The desktop, Compaq's first such offering under the Evo brand, follows a tradition begun with Compaq's DeskPro EX line, which touts prices starting at $567, according to Compaq's Web site.

"We're going to continue that same strategy, refreshing technology and trying to keep the (same) price point but not have (the customer) feel like he's buying old technology," said Greg Morris, product manager for the D300v model.

When it comes to the competition, "It's no secret that Dell's out there trying to drive down towards the lowest price possible, and everyone else as a matter of business is trying to keep up and keep competitive," Morris said.

The D300v "definitely is a competitor to some of Dell's low-end models," he said.

For $499, corporations get an entry-level Evo D300v fitted with an 800MHz Intel Celeron processor, 64MB of RAM, a 20GB hard drive, CD-ROM drive and Windows 98. The PC uses Intel's 815E chipset, which features an integrated graphics processor. This allows Compaq to shave costs by eliminating the graphics card.

The price is impressive, said Toni Duboise, desktop analyst for researcher ARS. "It's a solid commercial configuration," he said. "It is priced very competitively..."

With a monitor, the entry-level Evo D300v, can be had for around $750. A Windows 2000 version of the PC, which beefs up the system to a 933MHz Pentium III and 128MB of RAM, is priced at $769, Compaq said.

By way of comparison, Dell's Optiplex GX50 Small Desktop sells for about $620 when configured with an 800MHz Celeron, 64MB of RAM, a 20GB hard drive and a CD-ROM drive, according to Dell's Web site. An Optiplex GX150 with a 933MHz Pentium III, 128MB of RAM, and a 20GB hard drive, sells for $929.

Compaq launched the black and silver Evo brand earlier in the year. It has since shipped notebooks and workstations under the name. A second desktop PC, the Evo D500, is expected to be announced later in the year with a Pentium 4 processor.

Compaq is also looking to the new Evo to grab sales from brands such as eMachines' desktops that are not normally associated with corporate sales.

"We're also looking to HP's low-end models...Gateway...and also eMachines," Morris said. "On the world stage, we're also very concerned with white box makers." So-called white box PCs, manufactured by regional suppliers, generally offer lower prices than brand-name machines such as the Evo.