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Dell gets in on the cheap WebPC idea

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Dell has joined Compaq and Hewlett-Packard by releasing a cut-down, low cost PC aimed squarely at the Internet user. The WebPC basic model (433MHz Celeron, 15in monitor) will cost $1,000 (£628), with a 466MHz model costing $1,099 (£690) and with a flat-panel screen, $1949 (£1,223). It comes in a range of colours a la iMac and with a range of peripherals including scanner, digital camera and joystick. Dell revealed its WebPC intentions in August and released it just in time for Christmas but several weeks behind Compaq's iPaq and Hewlett Packard's e-PC. The WebPC is more expensive than the $499 (£313) iPaq but equivalent to Gateway's cut-down PC, Astro. All the models are essentially dumb terminals designed for simple Internet access. The low price is achieved by cutting out many of the usual PC features such as a disc drive, CD-Rom or expansion ports. Dell believes it has an advantage over other systems, however, since it is marketing the WebPC solely at consumers. The PC will also incorporate two buttons: one will automatically connect the user to an online technical support and the other is a sleep button, similar to a TV's standby button. The WebPC will run on Windows 98 and can be ordered from Dell's site, but – alas – it won't be available in the UK until the first half of next year. ®

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