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HP thinks inside the box with PC package

The company plans to start selling a one-box package containing a computer, along with a separate monitor and a printer, through discount retailer Wal-Mart.

While many computer makers are trying to get more revenue from "beyond the box," Hewlett-Packard is trying to stuff more inside the box.

HP


Gartner analyst Kevin Knox says Hewlett-Packard is targeting a growing market segment--first-time computer purchasers--with its all-in-one package.

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plans this week to start selling a one-box package containing a computer, along with a separate monitor and a printer, through discount retailer Wal-Mart.

The setup will feature a Pavilion PC with a 600-MHz Celeron processor, 64MB of memory, a 20GB hard drive and CD-ROM drive, along with a DeskJet 610CL color printer and V-series monitor. The complete package will sell for just under $900 and ship in a box of the size used to hold a 27-inch television, HP said.

Bundling computers with monitors and printers is nothing new. Many leading retail brands provide discounts to consumers who buy all three products. Most of the PCs HP already sells at Wal-Mart are bundled with either a monitor or monitor and printer. But HP said its single-box packaging is a big deal--so big that it has applied for a patent.

International Data Corp. analyst Roger Kay said there is some risk in forcing customers to buy a particular combination. For one, it excludes people who already have a printer or monitor.

"They're precluding certain segments entirely," Kay said. "On the good side, it's a cheap and nicely put-together bundle."

HP said its research showed the company and retailers could save some money by using a single box, but cost wasn't the main factor.

"The main purpose of doing it is not the savings," said Sam Szteinbaum, business manager for HP's North America consumer PC unit. "It's really ease of use, simplifying the choice."

HP has a history of testing new offerings through a particular retailer. The company first sold PCs using the AMD Athlon processor only through warehouse chains Sam's Club and Costco.

The company said it may extend the single-box approach to its direct business and other retailers if it proves successful.

Kay said the new packaging will be more convenient for some.

"It's a 75-pound box you can carry out to your car," Kay said. "Well, some people can carry it to their cars."