Computers: Feedback: Rental options

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The Independent Online
BRITAIN has had a quicker take-up of electronic consumer goods than most of Europe because the rental market in UK provides a cheaper and more flexible way of gaining immediate access to high-cost new products.

Renting a computer used to mean going to a commercially based firm which would hire systems for a week, maybe even a day - but at a high premium.

Now Radio Rentals is offering personal computers under its Option 2 Own scheme. The computers on offer are Olivetti 486SX machines. The Family Package costs pounds 39.99 a month and comes with a 120-megabyte hard disk loaded with programs that include MS Works and Lotus Organiser; the Home Office package at pounds 49.99 a month has 170-megabyte disk and more free software. . An Olivetti bubblejet printer is available at pounds 11.99 a month.

These are reasonable specifications, though with less memory and smaller hard disks than a Windows computer would ideally have. Microsoft Works 3 is an excellent piece of software with which to discover what a computer can do for you. All the software is pre- loaded and installation, service and a helpline are also provided; 24-hour repair or replacement is included.

The minimum rental period is six months, but after that it can be returned at any time. After 36-months, the system is yours - a price of pounds 1,439 for the family system compared with a cash purchase price of pounds 1,008, according to Radio Rentals.

A publisher's flyer arrives by email. Spectrum Press of Chicago, Illinois, publishes books on disk, among them Pride and Prejudice, The Canterbury Tales, Aristotle's Nicomachaean Ethics: lots of improving works which are happily out of copyright. There are also some modern works of a slightly different character, of which my favourite is Charly's Game by Bren Fleming: 'An erotic lesbian private-eye novel. Charly Quinn, tough, uncompromising and committed to pleasure solves a murder mystery in Greenwich Village.'

Aristotelians can reach Spectrum at 71022.251@compuserve. com

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