March 10, 1997 6:15 PM ET
UMAX offers details on Wintel PCs
By Robert Lemos

  Macintosh clone maker UMAX Data Systems Inc. went for double jeopardy today, announcing plans to manufacture Wintel PCs starting in May. The Taipei-based conglomerate is the first company to dive into both markets.

As reported last week (see story), a subsidiary, UTI (UMAX Technologies Inc.), intends to aim the initial computers at business publishers and high-end graphics users. Configurations will include 166MHz and 200MHz Intel Pentium MMX processors, video accelerator cards for MPEG playback, 33.6K-bps digital simultaneous voice and data modems, and a high-quality sound system compliant with Microsoft Entertainment PC97 specifications.

Standard components will include Level 2 cache, a video accelerator, 2MB of Extended Data Out dynamic RAM, a 12- or 16-speed CD-ROM drive, and a 2.1GB hard drive. A three-dimensional graphics accelerator and Diamondtron monitor are optional.

Will a UMAX brand computer be sold? "Absolutely," said UTI President Vincent Tai, who went on to say that laptops are on the company's agenda as well.

UTI, best known for its low-priced scanners for both the Mac OS and Wintel platforms, is a sister company of UMAX Computer Corp., which has been shipping Mac clones since last year.

With its success in a dual-platform market, UTI was considered to be the most logical choice by its parent company to sell the new PC.

"Until 1995, we sold a much greater number of Macintosh scanners," said Tai. "However, by early 1996, the PC market - driven by low-end graphics computers - became dominant."

UTI will initially focus on the graphics and publishing markets. "We want to find a foothold first," explained Tai, "and then we will move into the more competitive consumer market." At the high end, Tai expects UMAX's computers to challenge the workstations made by Silicon Graphics Inc.

And Tai could be right, given the phenomenal success of UTI in the scanner market, where the company has garnered a 22 percent market share in less than three years.

Details on how the computers will be sold and on future support for additional operating systems were not available.

Both UMAX Technologies and UMAX Computer are subsidiaries of UMAX Data Systems, which has over 26 worldwide subsidiaries and affiliates.

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