Compaq revamps products, prices

For the first time in company history, Compaq Computer Corp. today revamped its entire commercial PC product line in one fell swoop. The more cohesive product set - featuring fewer models and a new, easier-to-assemble design - will offer prices up to 15 percent lower than previous Compaq models.

The lower prices will make Compaq more competitive on the General Services Administration schedule and possibly make its PCs more attractive for future indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity bids, said Gary Newgaard, Compaq's manager of federal sales and marketing. "It gives us price competitiveness we've been lacking," he said.

Compaq has decided to expand its DeskPro moniker to the entire product range, with three different models called the 2000, 4000 and 6000. These are the entry, midlevel and top of the product line machines. Pentium processors are standard, and Pentium Pro processors are optional at all three levels. The entire family uses the same new cabinet, though the innards vary from one model to another.

The goal is to cut Compaq's manufacturing costs and buyers' maintenance and support costs. Like Dell Computer Corp.'s recently introduced OptiPlex cabinet, Compaq's new DeskPro is designed to snap together with a minimum of screws and, likewise, snap apart for easy service. Making the components easier to remove and replace reduces the cost of ownership by itself, but Compaq also is adding to the management tools it gives customers to help them oversee their PCs more effectively.

All the machines include Compaq's intelligent manageability, which provides information about each PC's status to network administrators. Compaq has improved the inventory, fault and security management features to make its commercial PCs easier to inventory, troubleshoot and protect. New support software makes it easier to upgrade and maintain the drivers and other software installed on PCs across a network.

The 4000 and 6000 models add features such as power supplies with a built-in surge suppressor and a sensor that tells administrators when a PC's cover has been opened. If the computer was turned off at the time, the sensor issues an alert as soon as the machine is restarted.

Inside the box, Compaq is adding new technologies such as support for an optional infrared port on 4000s and 6000s and for a Universal Serial Bus on Pentium Pro-equipped 2000s. Compaq's IntelliSafe hard disk failure-protection scheme has been renamed Self Monitoring Analysts and Reporting Technology by the industry consortium with which Compaq collaborated on the technology. SMART has expanded from the enhanced IDE hard disk drives originally supported to include SCSI drives on the 6000s.

The 2000s may have processors ranging from a 100 MHz Pentium to a 200 MHz Pentium Pro. The 4000s start at 120 MHz Pentium and go all the way to the top of the Pentium Pro line while 6000s start with the Pentium 166 MHz chip and include all the Pentium Pro chip speeds. All models include an 8x CD-ROM drive as standard equipment.

The company is submitting the models to GSA today for addition to its schedule and expects that GSA prices will be about 3 percent less than than the estimated street prices, Newgaard said.

The DeskPro PCs are part of Compaq's plan to become leaner and more efficient, said Lewis Schrock of Compaq's North American desktop marketing department. The company specifically designed the new DeskPros to be built by manufacturing cells rather than assembly lines. A manufacturing cell is a small team of people who assemble complete PCs.

Manufacturing cells give the company the flexibility to change the products some teams are building without affecting production by other teams.

Microsoft Corp. Windows NT will be the standard operating system for the DeskPro 6000, and Windows 95 is standard on the 2000 and 4000. Both operating systems are available optionally on any of the machines.

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