Compaq's colourful 'back-to-school' PCs

Compaq takes a page from Apple's books and reinvents the Presario for a "back-to-school" crowd

Sounding more like a stationery store than a computer company, Compaq Computer Wednesday unveiled "back-to-school" PCs whose colours can be changed after purchase.

Borrowing a page from Apple Computer's iMac, Compaq said it will offer buyers a choice of up to six colours when they purchase Presario 5000 and 7000 series desktop computers.

In a press release, Compaq said the Presario 5000 starts at $649 (about £429) and features Celeron and Pentium III processors and USB ports. Also included are a CD-RW drive and 40X max CD-ROM drive, along with a DVD-ROM drive on some models.

The Presario 7000, which starts at $960 (about £635), adds two IEEE 1394 ports, a Sound Blaster PCI audio card, AMD Athlon processors and a 16MB NVidia TNT2 graphics card.

Several models are available immediately, with others to ship throughout the back-to-school season.

In other announcements, Compaq unveiled:

  • The Presario 1400 Series notebook, which includes a hot-swappable drive bay for exchanging floppy, CD-ROM, DVD-ROM or CD-RW drives. The system starts at $1,499 (about £991).

  • The 1800 series, which includes a 750 MHz Pentium III processor, 30GB hard drive and high-speed Internet access. The 1800 Series starts at $1,899 (about £1256).

  • A trio of monitors and the IJ600 colour inkjet printer.

In addition to an array of colours, the new Presarios feature easy upgrades, access to the customisable My Presario Activity Center Web site, and a choice of Internet service providers.

The company said it was the most significant redesign of the flagship Presario line since 1996.

Buyers will be able to change the color of their PCs with a free "snap-on MyStyle Accent Colour Kit", which includes a front panel, keyboard insert and speaker grills, according to Compaq.

The PC colors are Smokey Quartz, Emerald Green, Ruby Red, Amber Orange, Sapphire Blue and Amethyst Purple.

The machines owe another design debt to Apple. The Presarios feature pop-off panels that provide easy access to memory, PCI slots and the hard drive. In addition, the machines provide a "screwless" rail design that allows easy swapping of storage devices.

An email waiting light on the keyboard will notify users when new mail arrives.

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