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IBM has launched a skinnier and cheaper desktop PC. In black.

The NetVista A20 is about the size of a VCR machine (3.5in x 12.5in x 15.4in) and comes with either an Intel Celeron or Pentium III chip.

Big Blue aims to push the machines primarily onto business punters who are after a cheap PC that doesn't take up too much space. The basic model - with the Celeron - costs $640.

It will also be available with up to 800MHz PIII, 15GB hard drive, 128MB of memory and Windows 2000.

The company is aiming the machine primarily at offices or schools, but it also plans to target consumers.

With the announcement, Big Blue is following the trend for smaller PCs, which are cheaper to make and ship - like Compaq's iPaq and HP's e-PC. The vendor says analysts reckon these all-in-one, smaller, micro tower machines will account for 75 per cent of the market by 2003.

"The amount of space a computer demands is more and more important to nearly all businesses," said Brian Dalgetty, IBM NetVista desktop systems marketing director.

The NetVista A20 will start shipping in two weeks. ®

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