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Small, but it packs a punch

The answer to your ITmanager's prayers is here: a PC that's powerful, compact and cheap, says Chris Drage.

PROBABLY the two most common questions asked by IT co-ordinators whose schools are equipped with PCs are: "When is the pace of introduction of new PCs going to slow down; and when will someone launch a good quality PC at a really attractive price?" Well, the Elonex Lumina has everything you need without the price tag normally associated with a high performance Windows 95 multimedia PC.

The Lumina's size immediately catches your eye: taking little more desk space than an A4 sheet, it's even smaller than an Acorn A7000. The review machine was a multi-media version being targeted at schools. A built-in television connector means the Lumina can be connected to large television screens to make class sharing easier.

The system has Windows 95 and Microsoft Works installed, as well as two more CD-Roms - Microsoft's Professor Windows 95 Deluxe and IBM's World Book Encyclopedia. There is also Internet access software for Compuserve, AOL, ATT WorldNet and the Microsoft Network.

Several aspects of the hardware deserve comment. Despite its diminutive size, there is still one expansion slot free if needed (say for high-capacity connection to scanners and the like). The controls for the monitor are also immediately available, not hidden behind or underneath a flap, and the monitor takes its power from the PC so only one mains socket is needed.

I especially liked the sleep mode, activated by pressing a button marked "Z". When you press it, you get a warning for a few seconds, after which the monitor switches off followed by the computer. Two lights at the front flash to let you know that the system is in sleep mode rather than turned off - useful when you want children to leave their work quickly.

One weak element you might want to replace is the keyboard - it's rather lightweight for sustained school use.

The whole Lumina package takes up as little space as possible and certainly makes those hard-earned PTA funds go twice as far. I am not aware of any other company offering such a powerful computing package at a price to suit school budgets without compromising performance or features.

However, it's crying out for some decent management software to make the system's operation easier for children, as well as the non-specialist teacher, to handle. If you can confidently manage (and troubleshoot) Windows 95, then this would be a good purchase for your school.

BETT Connection

Elonex stand 141Tel: 0181-452 2444

A4-size Pentium multimedia PC with 133MHz processor, 16Mb of memory, 1. 2Gb hard disc, 8x CD-Rom drive, 33.6k modem, 14in monitor, Pounds 735 plus VAT

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