New low-end Dimension includes flat panel for holidays

Dell Computer upgraded its low-end Dimension desktop line with the Dimension 3250, and will include a flat-panel display with a specific configuration in hopes of stimulating year-end holiday season purchases, the company said Tuesday.

The Dimension 3250 replaces the current 3200 as Dell's low-end consumer desktop machine, and it is available Tuesday in a fixed configuration to users as part of a holiday promotion, Dell said. A configuration with a 1.8GHz Pentium 4 processor from Intel, a 15-inch flat-panel monitor, 128MB of DDR (double data rate) SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM), a 30G-byte hard drive, and a CD-ROM drive will cost US$699 after a US$100 rebate, the company said.

This configuration and pricing model will be available through Dell's Web site until Dec. 25, a Dell spokesman said. Holiday gift-givers can add a DVD+rewritable drive for an additional US$199. Dell's PCs are typically offered without standard configurations, but the company does offer entry-level users the option of a fixed configuration.

The base price of the Dimension 3250 is US$569 using Intel's Celeron processors in various clock speeds from 1.7GHz to 2.0GHz, but that price doesn't include a monitor. Celeron processors are meant for price-conscious customers, and do not perform as well as Pentium 4 processors.

The new Dimension features integrated graphics chipsets from Intel and six USB (universal serial bus) 2.0 ports for connecting peripheral devices, as well as two 5.25-inch bays for an additional hard drive or optical drive.

The fourth-quarter holiday season is traditionally a strong one for PC sales, but this year's season is not expected to reach the heights of previous years, according to analysts. However, Dell is expected to lead the pack of PC vendors into the next year, even if the market doesn't rebound as quickly as some have hoped.

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Tom Krazit

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