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Umax trolls for low-end buyers

Two new low-cost Mac clones with networking capability priced starting at $1,095 hope to emulate the recent success of cheap PCs.

Umax Computer is expanding its low-end strategy to include business users by introducing two new low-cost Mac clones with networking capability that are priced starting at $1,095.

Umax also updated its sub-$1,000 Mac clone for consumers with a faster processor.

The move is in line with Umax's strategy to capitalize on what analysts say is the fastest-growing segment of the PC industry in the consumer and corporate markets by pushing multimedia features such as CD-ROM drives and "surround sound" in low-cost systems. Umax first introduced a sub-$1,000 Mac clone for the consumer market in May.

Packard Bell and Compaq Computer have already experienced strong sales of the sub-$1,000 Windows-based PCs they've rolled out this year even as sales of more expensive computers are slowing down.

Computer Intelligence, a market research firm, reported earlier this year that sub-$1,000 PCs from these companies were driving sales of desktop and portable PCs in the U.S. retail market.

Umax's entry-level business offering, the C500e/180, comes with Ethernet networking capability, a 180-MHz PowerPC 603e processor, a 1.2MB hard disk drive, and an 8X CD-ROM for $1,095. Another new model, the C600e/200, comes with Ethernet capability, a 200-MHz PowerPC 603e, 32MB of memory, a 2GB hard drive, a 12X CD-ROM, and a Zip drive from Iomega. It's priced at $1,895.

The company's $945 consumer system, the C500LT/180, has a 180-MHz PowerPC processor, whereas the latest comparable PCs from Compaq and Packard Bell have 150-MHz Pentium-class processors. The C500LT/180 also has a 1.2MB hard drive and an 8X CD-ROM.

All systems are available now.