On line to net the right computer

17th March 2000 at 00:00
Tempted by the Government computer subsidy? George Cole checks out some accredited suppliers.

The Government's Computers for Teachers scheme, launched at the BETT 2000 show in January, offers teachers the chance to buy a computer and receive a (taxable) subsidy of up to pound;500. The pound;20 million scheme runs for three years and teachers need to purchase their machine from an accredited supplier (there are 19 to choose from) and participate in the teachers' information technology training scheme.

Strings aside, the scheme means that teachers will be able to buy a powerful computer (notebook or desktop) for around a third to half the normal price. The signs are that many teachers have been attracted to the scheme and Tiny Computer Systems reports that within the first month of the scheme, it received around 1,500 orders from teachers.

The scheme is managed by the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency, which has set out a minimum specification for computers, as well as guidelines on service, support, installation and Internet access. It has published a free booklet, Computers for Teachers: How to Apply, that tells you about the grant process and other details.

Accredited supliers at the show include Akhter, offering the Explora 4500DV desktop PC with a DVD-Rom drive (pound;898.88 - all prices include VAT). DVD-Roms look like CD-Roms but hold more data. he drives can also read CD-Roms. The company's portable offering is the 6233 Notebook (pound;1,803.63).

RM is offering two desktop PCs, an entry level model costing pound;791.95, and a higher-specified Accelerator PC (pound;1,085), which has a faster processor chip, 17-inch monitor and DVD-Rom drive. RM's notebook PC costs pound;1,438.

Like RM, Tiny is offering a choice of desktop computers. The Power System 550 costs pound;738.08 and the Elite System 500, which includes 128 megabytes of random access memory (many PCs in the scheme offer half this amount), a 17-inch monitor and a DVD-Rom drive, costs pound;997.58. Tiny's Performance Notebook 400 has a 14-inch colour flat-screen and costs pound;1526.33. All prices include delivery.

Time's computers are a workstation PC (pound;821.33) and a notebook PC (pound;1,291.33). The prices include installation, helpline support, a software bundle and add-ons such as a scanner, digital camera and printer.

Viglen is offering the Contender 2 Plus P3-500CT (pound;844.63) and the portable LC 433CT (pound;1,408.83), which has a 13in colour flat-screen.

With the wide choice, there's a chance to find a computer that suits your needs - and pocket.

* For BECTA's free booklet, tel 0800 036 6500.


Akhter Computers stand M23

RM stand IT76

Time Education stand IT113

Tiny Computers stand IT119

Viglen Technology stand IT90

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