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AST first-to-market with viable $500 per user Windows-compatible PC system.

IRVINE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aug. 5, 1996--Radically lowering the cost of computing while delivering businesses an innovative computing solution, AST Computer (NASDAQ:ASTA) Monday introduced Centralan, the only Windows-based multi-user thin-client system.

A unique combination of hardware and software, Centralan allows up to sixteen users to efficiently share Pentium processing power by eliminating the need and cost of a separate CPU at each desk.

Ideal for small businesses as well as departments or branch offices of larger businesses, Centralan lowers the cost of computing by reducing the initial computing investment and limiting support, maintenance and upgrade costs to only one system. Additional users can be added to the initial base system for as little as $500.

"Anyone installing a network today expects to pay at least $5,000 for a server," commented Dan Sheppard, vice president of worldwide product marketing for AST. "AST's unique use of thin-client technology allows users to be added for around $500 each, as opposed to $1,500 for a complete PC!"

Simple, Economical Computing

AST's Centralan system features a single 166MHz Intel Pentium processor and serves up to 16 users. Each user only needs a keyboard, mouse and monitor at their desks, significantly reducing hardware costs. In addition to the initial investment being lower, the overall cost of ownership is also reduced by limiting support and upgrade expenses to only one system.

Users can also expect top performance and functionality with Centralan, because it works without the system drain and compromise of using a shared PC as a file server, like that found in a peer-to- peer network.

Designed to simplify network computing, Centralan is easy to install and support. It's virtually a plug-and-play system that can be installed in less than an hour.

Centralan's four user-base system comes pre-installed with a LAN-ready Intel EtherExpress 10/100B network adapter and a high-performance 33.6Kbps modem to suit all connectivity requirements. Because Centralan includes local area network functionality, users can share files and printers as well as running multi-user applications.

Unique Smart Remote Access

To make remote access easy and fast, Centralan comes with integrated remote access capabilities. With a separate PC, remote users can access their data and run applications the same way they would while in their office.

For on-the-spot technical support and problem resolution or to handle system administration tasks, authorized users can dial-up the system from anywhere. Security is maintained through multi-level password protection and a dial-back user verification. Also for ease-of-use, AST authorized resellers can offer remote site management services to their customers.

One System, Many Applications

Because Centralan makes one PC act like a whole team of PCs, it is ideal for a variety of businesses and applications. Small businesses, departments and branch offices of larger businesses can benefit from the multi-user environment and take advantage of Centralan's remote access and connectivity features. Immediate access to the corporate-wide network is simple and easy.

For businesses that do not have systems experts on staff, AST designed Centralan so that it is easy to install and support. Centralan is also the perfect solution for areas of education or business where every student or person does not need a computer of their own, just the ability to access and utilize one.

"Another benefit of Centralan is that it can breathe new life into older PCs," explained Sheppard. "Monitors, keyboards and even older CPUs can be used in conjunction with Centralan, providing another reason why Centralan is so cost-effective."

Here Today, Here Tomorrow

Unlike traditional systems that can often become obsolete within a matter of months, Centralan's unique architecture allows the latest technologies to be easily and economically integrated.

"As faster, more powerful processors come to market, each user on the Centralan system can benefit in a cost-effective way," explained Sheppard. "With only one system to upgrade to next-generation technologies, the Centralan will be in offices for years to come."

Maximum Performance Without Compromise

Centralan's pre-configured hardware includes a 166MHz Intel Pentium processor, 32MB EDO memory expandable to 192MB, multi-VGA adapter, 2GB Fast/Wide SCSI-2 drive, an 8X IDE CD-ROM, three internal and four external drive bays, two 32-bit PCI and five 16-bit ISA expansion slots, a 33.6Kbps modem and an Intel EtherExpress 10/100 Mbps PCI card. Monitors are sold separately.

"We've combined the best in hardware and software to provide an uncompromised alternative to network computing," explained Sheppard.

"This new solution presents a radical change in PC architecture, taking enormous strides in microprocessor computing power. The unique technology in this product allows several users to share the computing power of a Pentium processor, all at a very competitive price point."

Pricing, Warranty and Availability

Pricing for a base four-user Centralan system has an estimated street price of $5,700 (excluding monitors). Centralan will begin shipping mid-August and carries a three-year on-site warranty covering hardware components. An upgraded warranty providing four-hour response time is available through the GuardianCare program available in the United States.

Service and Support

AST backs all of its products with a host of multi-source support programs including a toll-free "hot" line for users in the United States. All product warranty and technical information is also available through AST InfoLine, an automated voice response unit, 800/727-1278. Users can tap the electronic bulletin board service for a myriad of information 817/230-6850.

Info-FAX, a 24-hour local and international voice-automated fax-response product information source, lets users download product information, 800/926-1278.

Extensive on-line support is available 24-hours a day, seven days a week through AST On-Line!, AST's own bulletin board service as well as Compuserve (GO:ASTFORUM), America Online (KEYWORD:AST) and Prodigy (JUMP:AST SUPPORT) on-line forums that allow users to talk, meet, share ideas and answer questions with other AST users.

In addition, service and technical support information is posted on the AST World Wide Web site, including Web Support, a feature that allows users to e-mail questions from the web site directly to the AST on-line support team.

Other Web site service elements include a list of the most frequently asked technical questions, software and technical bulletins and an index of files and drivers that can be easily downloaded. Information about AST, its products and services can be found on the World Wide Web at http://www.ast.com.

Corporate Background

AST Research Inc., a member of the Fortune 500 list of America's largest industrial and service companies, is one of the world's leading personal computer manufacturers. The $2.468 billion company develops a broad spectrum of desktop, mobile and server PC products that are sold in more than 100 countries worldwide.

AST systems meet a wide range of customer needs, from corporate business applications to advanced home and home office use. Corporate headquarters is located at 16215 Alton Parkway, P.O. Box 57005, Irvine, Calif., 92619-7005. Telephone 714/727-4141 or 800/876-4278. Fax 714/727-9355. -0-

NOTE TO EDITORS: AST is a registered trademark and AST Computer, Centralan is a trademark and GuardianCare is a service mark of AST Research Inc. AST-CommandCenter, AST-SmartShare, AST-LifeLine and AST-RemoteQuery and are trademarks of AST Research Inc. Intel and Pentium are registered trademarks and EtherExpress is a trademark of Intel Corporation. Microsoft and Windows NT are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries. All other products or services mentioned herein may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

CONTACT: AST Research Inc., Irvine

Misty Ohmart, 714/727-7728

or

The Benjamin Group

Lisa Zwick, 714/727-7961

lzwick@oc.tbgi.com
COPYRIGHT 1996 Business Wire
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Aug 5, 1996
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