Battling PC obsolescence

Nexar's computers keep you in step with technology

Has the inexorable march of technological innovation kept you waiting on the sidelines for a PC that won’t be old news by the time you get it out of the box? Stop waiting–it won’t happen. Early in the development of the microprocessor industry, Intel Corp. co-founder Gordon Moore stated that the number of transistors on a chip will double every 18 months. This condition, known as Moore’s Law, has fueled the rapid increases in computing power available to the consumer. It’s also made purchasing a computer a much more complex decision.

Conventional wisdom used to be that a new computer would have a shelf life of about five years before it became obsolete. In 1998 alone, there have been numerous processor upgrades from leading chip makers Intel, AMD and Cyrix, so it doesn’t look as if the PC shelf life is likely to lengthen. PC manufacturers aren’t exactly up in arms over this-after all, it means you’ll buy more of their product.

Nexar Technologies (www. nexar. corn), a Southborough, Massachusetts-based PC company, is hoping to change all that. Nexar has designed its PC, the Nexar XPA, to be future- ready. Rather than force users to replace an entire system to keep pace with new technologies, the XPA is designed to prevent rapid obsolescence and reduce the cost of owning a computer. “People who gravitate to this product are those who have to make a PC last more than two years,” says Craig Conrad, Nexar’s vice president of marketing.

The XPA features a split motherboard design and a case that allows easy access to the computer’s innards. “If you want to upgrade, all you have to do is slide the old component out and slide the new one in, without any tools at all,” explains Bill Lane, president of Long Beach, California-based D.I.S., a black-owned Nexar reseller (www. that offers made-to-order Nexar PCs.

Government agencies, interested in reducing the cost of computer deployment, have been some of Nexar’s biggest clients. However, Nexar would like to increase its market share and is hoping that its resellers can attract more consumers. Lane predicts that the Nexar XPA could be a boon to black businesses and consumers. “Our families typically can’t afford to buy a new PC every two years, so we need something that will grow with us,” says Lane, who maintains that the XPA’s benefits outweigh those of leasing plans offered by other companies. “If you lease a computer for two years and trade it in, you won’t get the full $3,000 that you paid for it toward your next PC, so you still end up paying more.”

“The XPA comes in a variety of models that are typically priced at 10% below the prices of comparable Dell computers,” says Conrad. “We’ve found that while the upgradability is very attractive to our customers, they aren’t willing to pay a premium for it.” Look for Nexar to begin marketing a sub- $1,000 PC in the near future. For now, performance-conscious small businesses and consumers can have

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