IBM, HP announce new desktops

Gearing up for the start of the holiday shopping season, Hewlett-Packard (HP) and IBM are unveiling a slew of new desktops this week at the TechXNY conference in New York.

IBM will revamp its ThinkCentre desktop line on Tuesday with lower-priced PCs, the company said. HP announced five new Compaq Presario desktops Monday that cover a wide range of computing needs from low-end "value" systems to feature-packed multimedia PCs.

The IBM ThinkCentre S50, M50, A50p and A30 come in new configurations and will be reduced in price with Tuesday's announcement. Prices for the A30 will start at US$399, down from $449 according to information on IBM's Web site Monday.

This price range puts IBM in line with recent moves from HP, Gateway Inc., and Dell Inc. to push PC prices lower. Dell and HP offer PCs for $349, after $50 mail-in rebates. Gateway recently introduced a $399 desktop.

Analysts peg the average price for a desktop system at around $750, and IBM also addressed the needs of customers who want a little more power with refreshed S50, M50, and A30p models. The new PCs will be available Tuesday through IBM's Web site in numerous configurations at prices ranging from $589 to $799 with Intel Corp.'s newest processors.

The ThinkCentre PCs come with IBM's Rapid Restore Ultra technology, which allows a user to recover data after an operating system crash by pushing a button. Additionally, the S50, M50, and A30p all come with an Access IBM button that automatically connects over the Internet to an IBM repository of system information.

HP's new Compaq Presario S5000 series also comes in a variety of configurations. The S5400NX comes with a 2.6GHz Pentium 4 processor with an 800MHz front-side bus and hyperthreading, 512M bytes of DDR (double data rate) SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM), a 120G-byte hard drive, and a DVD+RW and CD-ROM drive. The S5400NX won't be available until Nov. 2, and HP isn't releasing pricing information at this time, a spokeswoman said.

On the low end, the S5000 starts at an estimated $459 with a 2.5GHz Celeron processor, 128M bytes of DDR SDRAM, a 40G-byte hard drive and a CD-RW drive. It will be available on Sept. 28. Three other midrange models, the S5100, S5200, and S5300 will also be available over the next few weeks at estimated prices ranging from $559 to $779.

The new desktops will come with HP's new Image Zone software, designed to help users download photos from their digital cameras and perform basic image editing tasks. The software will be preloaded on other HP PCs this fall, the company said.

HP also announced a new scanner, LCD (liquid crystal display) flat-panel monitor, and an all-in-one printer/scanner/copier at the show Monday.

Not all products however, will become available in Australia, and local prices and release dates have not yet been finalised.

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