Zenith emerges from buyout with revamped Pentiums

Zenith Data Systems (ZDS), following its recent buyout by Packard Bell, announced last week a new Z-Station GT 500 Pentium-based desktop family, which replaces ZDS' current Z-Station VP and GT lines. ZDS' upgraded Z-Station GT 500 series is based on Pentium processors and Intel Corp.'s latest 430HX PCI chip set. The systems will enable ZDS to offer both high performance and value in a single line, ZDS officials said.

Shipping now, the systems support 100MHz, 133MHz, and 166MHz Pentiums. The PCs come standard with 16M bytes of Extended Data Out RAM, 256K bytes of synchronous pipeline burst cache, and ATI Mach 64 VT 64-bit graphics. Entry-level estimated street pricing starts at $US1554 for a 100MHz model with a 1.2Gb hard drive. At the high end, ZDS will offer a 166MHz multimedia minitower for $US2365, including a 2.1Gb hard drive and an eight-speed CD-Rom drive, the company said.

The acquisition, which took place in February, will bring other changes to ZDS, including a restructuring of its operational base. The company plans to close its Buffalo Grove, Ill., headquarters and St. Joseph, Mich., manufacturing facility, said Cliff Jenks, chief operating officer and executive vice president at ZDS. Many operations will move to Packard Bell facilities in Sacramento, Calif., by the end of June, he added.

"Packard Bell and ZDS are in the process of seeing where we have redundancy, [gaining] reduction in costs through consolidation. All we're doing is relocating. We fully expect to continue with ZDS desktops, notebooks, and servers and are looking to expand our lines," Jenks said. "We're maintaining focus on Zenith as a brand, with the Zenith brand name underneath the Packard Bell umbrella."

Jenks did acknowledge, however, that a "substantial number" of the 1300 employees affected by the consolidation will be let go. ZDS announced earlier this month that, along with Hughes Data Systems Inc., it was awarded a U.S. Air Force Desktop V contract estimated at about $US1 billion.

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