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Despite the heat of summer, direct PC vendors are already preparing their Christmas campaigns. Q4 this year is likely to be particularly busy in the consumer market as PCs with DVD drives will be widely available for the first time. DVD drives - despite being labelled as "gimmicky" by a number of retailers - are set to appeal to consumer users that want to be first with everything, and are expected to boost sales. Walthamstow-based direct vendor Simply Computers is hiring 20 new sales staff, and created a dedicated sales unit for small businesses as it prepares for high consumer demand for DVD-drive PCs. "Within the next six to nine months the CD-ROM drive will disappear and be replaced by DVD drives on new PCs," said Simply Computers product manager Mark Abery. "DVD drives will then sell at the same price that CD-ROMs did." Simply Computers is issuing its small business customers a separate phone number to order, fearing that phone lines might be swamped by consumer customers in Q4. It also claims that 10 per cent of its total sales are done end-to-end over the Internet. Also gearing up is Time Computers, which is mid-way through a three-week national TV advertising campaign. The campaign, the second by Time, aims to build brand awareness before the consumer-buying season begins. National sales manager Colin Silcock said that the vendor - which also has nationwide showrooms - would use focus groups to see if the adverts worked before deciding on whether to continue with TV advertising.

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