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eMachines debuts peppy spring lineup

Introducing its first new models since being acquired by Gateway, the budget PC maker beefs up its processing power.

Budget PC maker eMachines on Sunday will introduce its first crop of new models since being acquired by Gateway.

The new offerings consist of four desktop PCs and three laptops that deliver unusual bang for the buck, according to eMachines executives.

"Our goal is to provide the highest value at all reasonable price points," said Will Diehl, director of notebook product development for eMachines.

The notebook line begins with the M2105, priced at $999 and sporting an Intel Celeron 2.8GHz processor, 256MB of memory and an advanced 15.4-inch display. Diehl said it's the first wide-screen laptop to break the $1,000 price barrier. "I think it's the highest-value product we've offered at the low-end price point," he said.

The other laptops are based on Advanced Micro Devices' 64-bit Mobile Athlon 64 processor. The M6805 has an Athlon 64 3000+, 512MB of memory, a 60GB hard drive and a DVD/CD-RW combination drive. It sells for $1,399. The $1,549 M6809 beefs up the processor to an Athlon 64 3200+, bumps the hard drive to 80GB and upgrades the optical drive to a multiformat DVD-RW model.

Both models include integrated wireless networking and advanced graphics based on ATI's Radeon 9600, plus a handful of new design touches, including comfort-boosting rubberized paint on the laptops' palm rest. "We've really tried to pay attention to the industrial design," Diehl said.

On the desktop side, eMachines' low end will now be anchored by the T2742, a $399 model with a Celeron 2.7HGz processor, 256MB of memory, 40GB hard drive and--new for eMachines' low-end model--a combination DVD/CD-RW drive.

The T2885 boosts the processor to a 2.8GHz Celeron, memory to 512MB and the hard drive to 80GB, plus separate DVD and CD-RW drives, for $479.

At $569, the T3065 uses an Athlon XP3000+ processor, 512MB of memory, a 160GB hard drive, Nvidia GeForce 4MX graphics and a memory card reader. The $619 T3085 adds a DVD-RW drive.

All the new models will be on sale Sunday at eMachines retailers, including electronics giant Best Buy.

Gateway acquired privately held eMachines last month in a deal valued at about $290 million, hoping to bolster its sagging fortunes with eMachines' profitable low-end PC business.

Gateway executives have not spelled out plans for eMachines except to say that they will continue to sell PCs under the eMachines brand. That would constitute Gateway's sole retail presence, once it shuts down the 188 remaining Gateway stores.