Dell Computer Corp. is entering the prebuilt PC arena, competing with traditional vendors of non-configurable PCs traditionally sold at retail.
"We continue to appeal to more experienced computer users," said a spokesman for Dell, Round Rock, Tex. "Now, were going after more retail-prone customers to widen our net."
The Dell SmartStep is a prebuilt PC configured with a 1-GHz Celeron, 128-Mbytes of memory, 20-Gbyte hard drive, and a 15-inch monitor for a base price of $599. No feature of the PC, including the monitor, can be configured by a customer.
Although one might assume that a retail customer might be interested in the ability to play with a machine and buy it immediately from the store, customers in fact are now accustomed to going online and buying items, the Dell spokesman said. "People now feel comfortable buying direct over the Internet," he said.
Dell touts the SmartStep as a "perfect no-hassle first computer or additional home system for the Internet-savvy family." The machines does come with additional options for external devices such as a printer or scanner, as well as a Detto Intellimover system for transferring files from an older PC to the newer model.
Instead, if a customer wants to tailor his PC, Dell recommends that users pay for a Dimension 2100 desktop, a $699 machine that comes with a 900-MHz Celeron, but adds features like a CD-RW drive, plus the option to tweak the system as a buyer sees fit.
Dells SmartStep is an experiment, which will likely be adapted for the small business market, the spokesman said. He declined to comment on whether or not other skews would be available, or if a notebook version of the SmartStep would be sold.