PCs Gone Wild
NEW YORK--One of the most interesting parts of the personal-computing business involves building systems for gamers. People who play fast-paced action games all the time may very well be the industry's dream customers: They value performance above all else and they're willing to pay for it.
But they can also be very picky about what they buy. Let's take a look at what Dell and HP have cooked up to try to satisfy gamers' needs:
* HP's Blackbird 002 comes mounted on the kind of metal stand you might use to display an enormous model airplane--here, it helps ensure air flows into its cooling vents from underneath. The entire side flips down to expose an interior in which every component is both visible and easily accessible for repairs or upgrades (why can't regular desktops be more like that?). It starts at $2,500, but if you want to go all-out with every available option--including a liquid-cooling system for its processor--HP rep Ann Finnie said you could drop up to $7,100 on this model.
* Dell's XPS 720 is equally massive; like the Blackbird, it's built to stand on top of the desk, where it can make all of your other gadgets feel small. The grill at the front of its chassis lights up in your choice of colors and, with some tinkering, can respond to what happens in a game--when you get shot, the lights can turn red. Dell's Web site lists configurations going from $1,699 to $6,900. Next to it sat a gaming-oriented laptop, the $3,000-and-up XPS M1730, with comparably high-powered components inside and one really good idea on the outside: a backlit keyboard, like what's on Apple's MacBook Pro. (Why can't the rest of Dell's laptops be more like that?)
Elsewhere at this show, Sprint and Palm formally unveiled the Centro, the smaller-than-a-Treo Palm smartphone that first surfaced in public at Sprint's "technology summit" in Tysons Corner last month. It will sell for $99 after a rebate, starting October 14. Sprint has a teaser site set up; if you don't need any goofy Flash animations in your life right now, see TreoCentral's writeup of the press conference.
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