The PCs answer to the iMac

Low-cost US computer maker Emachines Inc. plans to release the PC's answer to Apple's iMac.

"To Apple's credit, they have shown that the PC is ready for 'cool,' " said Stephen Dukker, president and CEO of Emachines, based in Fremont, California. Dukker says he's going to respond in kind, with an as-yet-unnamed computer. He expects other PC makers to have similar sleek designs by year's end.

The new Emachines computer will integrate a 15-inch display and a central processing unit based on Intel Corp.'s 366MHz Celeron and a 4GB hard drive. The cool part, of course, is the colour -- the device will feature a two-tone colour scheme (light blue and grey), a la the iMac, but with retro styling reminiscent of a 1950s car.

E-machines has learned from Apple's (Nasdaq:AAPL) trailblazing effort, Dukker said, as many of the iMac's more criticised aspects will be changed. For instance, it will have a floppy drive, limited expandability, and can operate as a CD player even when the CPU is not on.

Dukker expects the machine to sell to both consumers and small businesses. "This would be a great one-piece workstation for corporate buyers," he said.

The price will most likely be between $700 and $800 dollars. The new computer should be announced in late May and will be shipping around June or July, Dukker said.