Bits & Bytes
THIS COMPUTER DOES EVERYTHING BUT MAKE COFFEE
Rube Goldberg would be proud. In an effort to put some new life into the home-computer market, Taiwan's Acer Inc. has come up with the Personal Activity Center (PAC)--a combination IBM PC clone, alarm clock, answering machine, Speakerphone, fax, compact-disk player, and AM/FM radio all rolled into one. The computer even turns itself on and off automatically whenever a phone call or fax comes in. At least three other computer makers are preparing similar products for sale by November, but analysts say Acer's six-month lead and low list price of $2,300--not including a monitor--should give it an edge.
Acer America Corp. President Ronald Chwang says the PAC breaks ground by combining all the pieces of multimedia into one package, including lots of popular preloaded software, such as Microsoft Windows 3.0. Acer says it expects to sell 15,000 to 20,000 PACs by the end of the year.EDITED BY SUNITA WADEKAR BHARGAVA