6th April 2001 at 01:00
I-Desk. pound;14,500 for a 15-user set. Time Education. Time Technology Park, Burnley, Lancashire BB12 7TG. Tel: 01282 777 799 Fax: 01282 778 214.

There weren't too many hardware providers at the Education Show in Birmingham last month, but one product that did create a great deal of interest was the new I-Desk from Time Education.

The integrated computer and desk, developed jointly by Time Education and Intercase UK, is aimed at the education market. Intercase has been in the school furniture market for several years and has patented the I-Desk.

If the idea of integrated units takes off, ICT rooms will no longer be a mess of wire jumbles and process boxes with scuff marks.

The computer is fixed horizontally under the desktop, keeping it out of the way of clumsy feet. All cables are encased within the desk, with the CD-Rom drive and floppy drive situated at the front of the desk just underneath the table top. Schools can request units with the drives sealed off.

The machines run on low-voltage power so you won't need lots of plugs. Up to six units can be plugged together and connected to just one power socket. Each unit meaures 100cm x 60cm and the jigsaw-style edge allows the desk to be linked up in a number of configurations. The table tops have a sprayed polyurethane finish which is scratchproof and hard-wearing; the screw-on legs are made from powder-coated steel.

The computer monitor is a TFT flat screen, another feature that frees up more space on the desk. It is fixed to the desk with a custom-made bracket and it takes just one hand to tilt or swivel the screen.

When the computer is not in use, students can store the keyboard in a slot at the back of the desk, creating a clear space for books and pencil cases and so on.

The security system will also be an attractive option for schools. Short of walking away with a desk, thieves will have problems separating the computer cassette from the desk. And removing the screen will render it useless without the desk.

Not only will this contraption save you time - you'll no longer have to bother with separate furniture and IT catalogues - but it should save you money in the long run, with the integrated system costing less than the equivalent items sold separately.

Yolanda Brooks

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