Dell punts out pre-built $599 WinXP PC

No upgrade option

Dell has entered the low cost pre-built PC market - a break from the build-to-order model it's built its market dominance on.

The Dell SmartStep 100D costs $599. The basic configuration includes WinXP, a 1 GHZ Intel Celeron, 128 MB SDRAM, 20 GB hard drive, speakers, a 15 inch monitor, a modem, and six months of AOL Internet service.

There's not much in the way of custom options with the SmartStep, which is being built by Taiwanese manufacturer Mitac. Home users buying the box get a 90-day limited warranty, they can choose to upgrade to a one-year limited warranty for an extra $50. Small business buyers can get it without the monitor and with an Ethernet card. There's no opportunity to get a bigger hard disk, or pack the system with more SDRAM - for that you've got to get a Dimension box.

Dell says the SmartStep 100D is designed for first-time Dell computer buyers or for customers wanting another desktop for their home or small business.

"For about the cost of two movie tickets and popcorn every month, customers can own a Dell SmartStep 100D. That is unprecedented," said John Hamlin, VP of Dell's consumer business. And how much will two movie tickets and a carton of popcorn be worth one month hence, one might wonder... ®