The Bare Minimum
Why pay big bucks for PCs with fancy functions you don't need?
Compaq, IBM and Hewlett-Packard have brought a new kind of machine to market-think smaller, sleeker and cheaper. Borrowing their looks from slim, fashion-conscious information appliances, the latest breed of desktop machine is aimed squarely at the business user. Lacking the muscle to handle high-end graphics or database applications, these computers are designed instead for word processing, basic office applications and, of course, the Internet.
Because looks alone don't sell business computers, the manufacturers have added features designed to appeal to employers. Compaq's iPAQ (www.compaq.com), for example, is available in Legacy (with parallel, serial and PS/2 ports) or Legacy-Free (USB-only) models. Starting at $499 (street), the iPAQ also sports built-in Ethernet and optional hot-swappable expansion drives. This move toward simplicity in business computer design and management has rubbed off on IBM's NetVista line (www.ibm.com) and HP's e-Vectra series (www.hp.com).
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