Harvey Norman offers $0 IBM PC

Sooner than anticipated, Harvey Norman has raised the bar in the PC/Net deal market with the announcement of a zero dollar IBM PC tied to a 30-month Internet access contract.

The new deal was revealed today as Myer/Grace Bros announced its first offering on the market -- a Hewlett-Packard Pavilion 4411 PC priced at $299 and tied to a 36-month contract of unlimited Optus Internet access at $79.95 per month.

Over the past few weeks Harvey Norman and Tandy have been competing fiercely with similar deals offering low-priced budget PCs tied to Internet access contracts, at initial outlays of $399 and $499 respectively. Such price points are possible because the ISPs involved in the deals are subsidising the PCs sold with their Internet access.

Tony Gattari, general manager of computers and communications at Harvey Norman, last week told PC World a zero-dollar brand-name PC would be only weeks away and cautioned consumers to wait for the best deal.

Harvey Norman's "zero dollars PC" is the IBM Internet PC, incorporating an AMD 380MHz processor, 32MB RAM, 4GB hard drive, 40x CD-ROM, 15in monitor, 56K data/fax modem and a built-in network card. Software bundled with the system includes Windows 98, Quicken, Lotus Smartsuite Millennium, Worldbook 99 Encyclopaedia, Norton Antivirus, Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer.

The deal's Internet access is provided by One Net and is a 30-month contract priced at $79.95 per month. The total minimum cost of the package is $2398.50.

The Myer/Grace Bros offering -- the Big Net Set -- is for a limited time only, the company says. The Hewlett-Packard Pavilion 4411, normally priced at $1699, is based on a Celeron 366MHz processor and includes 32MB SDRAM, 4.3GB hard drive, 32x CD-ROM, 15in monitor and 56K data/fax modem. Software bundled includes Windows 98, Microsoft Works, Quicken 98, Microsoft Money 98, EasyPhoto and Microsoft Encarta 99 Encyclopedia.

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Molly Furzer

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