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Cheap but cheerful multimedia

If you want your primary school kids to get ahead in multimedia, but don't have a big budget, try the cheap, but effective, Intel PC Create amp; Share Camera pack. Jack Kenny reports

Many primary SCHOOLS worry - understandably - about the cost of multimedia. However, the learning benefits are so great that ways need to be found around the costs. At pound;49 the Intel PC Create amp; Share Camera pack is such a way.

It can do things we hardly even dreamt of a few years ago, and at a reasonable price. It installed in moments, straight out of the box, and was soon perched on top of the monitor displaying an acceptable colour image. The Intel Create amp; Share software is at the heart of the system: you can use it to take snapshots, to record short video sequences, and you can even connect a video recorder to digitise a video sequence you already have recorded. Unlike other cameras, the images go straight into the PC so no one has to worry about importing images via leads.

The benefits of all this for a primary classroom are immense: a good camera that will record things in and around the classroom, portable if you can attach it to a laptop. Probably the best use is to teach some simple editing by creating video sequences that can be titched together with fades or cuts.

Simple forms of videoconferencing and video phone calls are possible. Video phone calls across the internet have many advantages: they are much cheaper than video conferencing, using what ever connection you have to your Internet service provider and at the same tariff. Time-lapse photography and pictures triggered by a motion detector and simple animations are also achievable.

It is essential that any computer used with this camera has a USB (Universal Serial Bus) socket - most recent computers have one. The image quality is 480x640 pixels, which is not high definition, but you have to trade that off against the price and the possibilities for meaningful work. The main drawback is that the package does not include a microphone - you have to provide your own.

This is a great bargain. It will increase motivation and imaginative teachers will be able to devise uses Intel has not foreseen.

Intel PC Create amp;Share Camera packPrice:pound;49 ex VAT from DABSTel:0870 129 3120www.dabs.comRM Price: pound;59 ex VAT (0870 908 6868)www.intel.compccamera Online star rating:Intel PC Camera Suitability for purpose

Ease of use

Design ***

Quality of output ****

Value for money

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