Computers: High street sales take off: Nigel Willmott looks at the systems and prices on offer in the main retail store chains

There will be 'computer-related' presents under the tree in one-third of all British families this year, according to a MORI survey, commissioned by Dell. More frightening still, the average cost of these will be about pounds 200. Most recipients will be teenagers and they want games consoles, even though parents start off buying their children educational programs. However, 4 per cent of the teenagers being given expensive presents will be getting fax machines. Surely Mortal Kombat does less harm?

Christmas looks like registering record sales for real computers in the high street, with a growing number of store chains selling boxes from stock just like any other consumer electronics item - some even quote prices inclusive of VAT. Mail order or dealers may offer keener prices, but high street stores offer familiarity and better security if things go wrong and are more geared to selling complete set-up-and-go systems than any but the largest direct selling companies like Dell.

A tour of some of the leading retailers shows there is something for a wide range of budgets, with systems that use the television as a monitor starting at little more than most game systems. The following should provide a useful price guide, even if you decide to buy from a computer superstore or dealer.


This is the territory of 'home computers' like the Amiga and Acorn. Both are technically advanced machines with high quality graphics and stereo sound as standard. They can be plugged into a television screen for games playing, though for serious work, you will still need to invest in a proper monitor.

Prices vary according to the package of software, but best deal on the Amiga 1200 was at John Lewis, selling the Desktop Dynamite package, including two games, the Wordsworth word processor and Paint graphics program, for pounds 349. It also offered the Philips CM883/2 colour monitor which has stereo speakers for pounds 199 including an extra game.

Tempo and Argos offer the Acorn 3010 without a monitor for pounds 399.99. It offers basically the same processor speed as the Amiga, but has a 1.6 megabyte floppy disk drive, twice the capacity of the Amiga's, and more software, including two word processors, Paint, Draw and Music programs and games.

If you want to work rather than play, many stores are still selling the popular Amstrad PCW word processing systems, with Ryman offering the best price of pounds 329 for an 8256 with dot matrix printer.


John Lewis offers the Acorn 3010 Learning Curve package, with its own medium resolution monitor with stereo sound, the Advance integrated word processor, spreadsheet, database program (but no hard disk) for pounds 749 and with an Acorn- badged Olivetti bubble jet printer for pounds 849 - the printer alone costs pounds 199.

Apple Performas begin in this price range, starting with the basic 400 with a 40-megabyte hard disk and medium resolution monitor for pounds 645. Ryman was offering the 400 in a package with a Stylewriter printer and ClarisWorks integrated software for pounds 1,016.37.

POUNDS 750 - POUNDS 1,000

Basic models of current-generation 486 PCs scrape in under pounds 1,000, with Dixons offering a basic Packard Bell 85- megabyte hard disk system for pounds 949.99 and a Highscreen 210-megabyte system - apparently the best seller in Germany - for pounds 999.99. However, they only have basic software and, of course, no printer, which will cost about another pounds 200.

Ryman offers Compaq's Presario 100- megabyte hard disk system with ClarisWorks and two games, including Nintendo's Mario is Missing, for pounds 997.57.

POUNDS 1,000 - POUNDS 1,500

Regrettably, state of the art PCs and Macs with adequate software still cost more than a grand. Packard Bell, Compaq, Olivetti and IBM in various configuarations dominate the PC offerings. If you want the market leader, IBM's PS/1 with fast 486 DX2 processor high resolution SVGA screen and 127- megabyte disk, with Works integrated software and Quicken personal accounts was priced at pounds 1,499 in John Lewis.


Only worth including to show that a multimedia machine that can read CD-roms still counts as long-term investment. Dixons had a discounted Apple 600CD with 80-megabyte hard disk and CD-rom drive for pounds 1,699. John Lewis offers a Presario CD 120-megabyte hard disk system with CD-rom and five disks, including games, for the same price.

(Photograph omitted)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform