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The Bare Minimum Why pay big bucks for PCs with fancy functions you don't need?

By Amanda C. Kooser

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Compaq, IBM and Hewlett-Packard have brought a new kind ofmachine to market-think smaller, sleeker and cheaper. Borrowingtheir looks from slim, fashion-conscious information appliances,the latest breed of desktop machine is aimed squarely at thebusiness user. Lacking the muscle to handle high-end graphics ordatabase applications, these computers are designed instead forword processing, basic office applications and, of course, theInternet.

Because looks alone don't sell business computers, themanufacturers have added features designed to appeal to employers.Compaq's iPAQ (www.compaq.com), for example, isavailable in Legacy (with parallel, serial and PS/2 ports) orLegacy-Free (USB-only) models. Starting at $499 (street), the iPAQalso sports built-in Ethernet and optional hot-swappable expansiondrives. This move toward simplicity in business computer design andmanagement has rubbed off on IBM's NetVista line (www.ibm.com) and HP's e-Vectra series(www.hp.com).

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