Army pacts offer low-end bargains

With the year-end buying season in full swing there's good news for shoppers seeking low-end PCs and notebooks.

Vendors have upgraded their entry-level models and in some cases are offering them at the same or lower prices.

Recent industry price reductions on processors and memory are showing up on some indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity contracts such as the Army's PC-1 and Portable-1.

These governmentwide acquisition contracts can be used as purchasing vehicles for civilian and Defense agencies with the exception of the Air Force and the Navy.

On PC-1 for example contractor Electronic Data Systems Corp. recently upgraded its low-end Pentium offering from a 75 MHz machine to a 100 MHz model from Micronics Inc. that features 16M of RAM and a 1.2G hard drive.

The price of that system has just been reduced to $1 795 according to Gene Garlick PC-1 program manager with EDS' military systems organization. EDS has also announced an increase in memory from 16M to 32M for its Micronics P133 system. That system remains priced at $2 349.

Gangbuster Buy

Sysorex which holds the dual-award PC-1 pact with EDS offers a 100 MHz Pentium priced at $1 799. But Bob Guerra Sysorex's executive vice president referred to an IBM Corp. 133 MHz system with 32M of RAM priced at $2 199 as the gangbuster buy on the contract.

Both PC-1 contractors also offer 486 desktops. EDS offers a Micronics 486DX2 with 8M of RAM and a 635M hard drive for $1 253. Sysorex offers a similar model for $1 201.

But there is very little demand for the 486 PCs according to product managers for the PC-1 contract with the Army Small Computer Program in Fort Monmouth N.J. Potential customers may be small offices that need to buy as many PCs as they can afford.

Entry-Level Notebooks

Government customers can buy Pentium and 486 notebook computers from the Portable-1 contract. Government Technology Services Inc. and International Data Products Corp. are prime contractors on that dual-award pact.

IDP recently upgraded its baseline Pentium system to the 133 MHz model from a 75 MHz machine essentially leaping over the 100 MHz level IDP president George Fuster said.

The 133 MHz notebook is priced at $2 047 - the same price as the model it has replaced. The IDP Notebook Series 530XD comes with 8M of RAM a 810M hard drive a 10.4-inch screen and either Microsoft Corp. Windows for Workgroups or Windows 95.

Last month GTSI added Compaq Computer Corp.'s new Armada 4110 notebook to Portable-1 for $1 850. The 100 MHz Pentium system includes 8M of RAM a 810M hard disk drive an 11.3-inch screen and either Windows 95 or Windows for Workgroups.

IDP meanwhile has reduced prices on its 486 notebooks. It offers its Notebook II Series 400 System which runs on a 486DX4 100 MHz processor for $1 575.

This notebook includes 8M of RAM a 540M removable hard drive a 10.3-inch color screen and Windows for Workgroups. GTSI reports that all the 486 notebooks on its contract have been sold.

Houghtaling is a free-lance writer based in Falls Church Va.

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