Until Mike Hewitt finds a suitable desk for his PC, he'll remain chained to the dining room table
We're now some 15 years into the so-called computer revolution. The PC is fast becoming as common a piece of consumer electronics equipment as the CD player and pop-up toaster. So why have manufacturers of computer desks not cottoned on to this? How come most of their products still look like the illegitimate spawn of a hostess trolley and a filing cabinet?

The ideal computer desk ought, in my opinion, to complement your existing living room or bedroom furniture, not fight with it. It should be a stylish thing of smooth curves and polished wood, rather like one of those old- fashioned writing bureaux. It should be big enough to work at comfortably, but not so big that it becomes a de facto conversation piece.

My initial solution to the problem has been to adapt a folding "butterfly" dining table from B&Q. The cupboard in the middle, normally used for storing its four foldaway chairs, proves ideal for housing the tower unit. With both wings opened out, there is more than enough room for all the peripherals, as well as a generous amount of working space. So generous, indeed, that it rather threatens to declare Lebensraum and annex the whole living room. And, of course, because the computer is spread all over it, I no longer have a dining table. So what are the alternatives?

Forget the cheapo flat-pack, self-assembly computer desks sold by catalogue shops. While it is nice to know there are things that make MFI wall-units look classy, they have a fundamental design flaw: most are about 10 years out of date. They still have wire baskets on the back to collect a dot- matrix printer's fanfold paper, for goodness' sake. That is akin to Dixons trying to sell you an 8086 PC pre-installed with WordStar for DOS as state of the art.

The "ergonomically designed" units sold by mail order through the computer magazines are not much better, either. If you're prepared to pay pounds 120 and more, you get something that, admittedly, accommodates the PC and all its paraphernalia. Unfortunately, most are so compact and bijou, you would probably need to use a shoehorn to squeeze yourself into a sitting position.

Non-computer outlets are now getting in on the act, too, but with little success. The Kitchen Reject Shop, for one, sells a latticed-pine, self- assembly "computer desk", looking rather like a steroid-bloated spice- rack (it came off the same assembly line, no doubt). It is compact, yet big enough to accommodate the PC, a printer, scanner, and whatever else you care to add. What's more, the price-tag of just pounds 29.99 makes it seem like a bargain. But try typing on it. The whole thing wobbles with each keystroke. It's enough to make you seasick.

What is the problem here? PCs are not only ubiquitous, but they are all of a standard shape and size. Likewise their add-ons. Surely, therefore, it must be within the capability of some designer to produce a classic piece of domestic furniture around them? Isn't it? I wait in (vain?) hope for the liberation of my dining table.

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