Not all vendors rush to roll out new PCs

Not all PC vendors are rushing to introduce new PCs loaded with Intel Corp.'s new 2.2GHz Pentium 4 processor, but on Monday a number of high-profile manufacturers including Gateway Inc., Compaq Computer Corp., Dell Computer Corp., and Hewlett-Packard Co. launched systems with the new Intel chip inside.

Gateway on Monday introduced a high-performance 700XL-series PC loaded with multimedia extras such as advanced graphics and sound cards, a USB 2.0 interface, and a DVD-RAM/DVD-R drive capable of recording up to two hours of digital video, according to Gateway representatives. The 700XL system starts at US$2,999.

Gateway also unveiled a business-class E4650 PC with the 2.2GHz Pentium 4 inside. Designed for ease of manageability in networks with large PC deployments, the E4650 sells for $2,049.

Compaq launched a feature-rich Presario 8000T with the new Pentium 4 inside for $1,499. The Presario 8000T comes with a 40GB hard drive, 256MB of memory, and is also available with an optional AMD Athlon XP Processor 2000+ instead on an Intel chip, Compaq officials representatives said.

PC market leader Dell introduced a new Dimension 8200 PC with the 2.2GHz chip inside. The Dimension 8200 comes with a 20GB hard drive, 256MB of memory, and features such as a CD-ROM drive and Harmon Kardon speakers with a subwoofer, all for $1,909, according to Dell.

HP launched two new 2.2GHz PCs, an HP e-pc and an HP Vectra v1420, according to HP representatives. Billed as the industry's smallest and quietest Pentium 4 2.2GHz PC, the HP e-pc is designed for business environments such as stock trading floors that require high-performance PCs that fit in small work areas. HP's Vectra v1420 is available in three form factors including desktop and mini-tower, as well as a small form-factor version, according to HP representatives.

A version of HP's consumer-targeted Pavilion PC with the 2.2GHz chip will become available on Jan. 9. Both the 2.2GHz HP e-pc and the 2.2GHz Vectra start at $1,660, according to HP representatives.

IBM Corp. will launch a 2.2GHz PC before the end of January, a company spokesperson said.

Early adopters of systems powered by the 2.2GHz Pentium 4 will be mainly PC gamers and others riding the performance curve, said Roger Kay, an analyst with International Data Corp. in Framingham, Mass.

But those eager to purchase PCs with the latest Intel chips inside are finding fewer PC vendor choices at the outset of a microprocessor's availability, Kay said.

"It used to be, just a year ago, that when a new Intel chip came out you had 20 PC vendors rushing to introduce systems," Kay said.

Now many PC makers such as IBM, Micron PC Inc., and others, are waiting to launch PCs loaded with the latest chips, Kay said. Waiting to launch a system with a freshly released chip can give PC vendors the advantage of not having to promote its product in a crowd of competitors also offering new systems, Kay said.

User satisfied with the performance of their current PCs will also slow the uptake of the new Pentium 4s, as well as competition from dedicated, high-performance game systems such as Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox, Kay said.

"Existing PC performance is sufficient to run the software that exists now over the communication links that exist now. It doesn't buy you a lot to grab a faster processor," Kay said.

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