HP's got CD-RW for a budget

HP is bringing CD-rewritable drives to its low-end PCs, adding three new PCs with CD-RW drives to its consumer Pavilion line. This is meant to capitalize on the popularity of recording music onto CDs, as well as backing up data and storing photos.

HP is bringing CD-rewritable drives to its low-end PCs.

On Tuesday, the company added three new PCs with CD-RW drives to its consumer Pavilion line. They sell for $699, $1,099 and $1,599, though none comes with a monitor.

The inclusion of a CD-RW drives is meant to capitalize on the popularity of recording music onto CDs, as well as backing up data and storing photos. Offering CD-RW drives in low-end systems is something the market hasn't seen much of, NPD Intelect analyst Stephen Baker said.

"CD-RW drives in systems aren't new. But in entry-level systems, starting at $699, that's something you don't see traditionally," Baker said.

One of the top consumer PC sellers since the launch of its Pavilion line nearly six years ago, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company revealed in mid-February that revenue from the sale of consumer PCs had been flat.

Likewise, Baker said, sales of PCs industrywide have been flat for about nine months.

Although Baker said the CD-RW drives won't likely boost sales of HP's entry-level PCs during the current economic slowdown, the drives do put pressure on competitors and differentiate HP's systems.

The systems are noteworthy for other features as well, Baker said, such as 128MB of memory on all three of the new computers.

"HP is excited about the CD-RW drives, but I think that the 128MB of memory is equally as important," he said.

The Pavilion 6835 includes an 800MHz Celeron processor and a 30GB hard drive. The Pavilion 7855 is powered by a 1GHz Pentium III and packs a 60GB hard drive, 12x DVD drive and Ethernet card. The higher-end Pavilion 7875 comes with a 1.3GHz Athlon processor, double data rate DRAM, 80GB hard drive, 16x DVD drive and 32MB of graphics memory.

HP product manager Tom Markworth sees the CD-RW drives as a way of bringing together a number of the company's products.

"Because of our businesses in printers, cameras and scanners, we view the PC as a hub for all of those types of products," Markworth said. "We realize that we have to do a better job of pushing those products together, and we think that CD-RW drives can help us do that."