Christmas presents: Computer accessories

Computers can be an endless source of gift ideas from pounds 20 to pounds 3,000. You can buy extra memory, a new hard disc, a new printer, even computer furniture.

Memory is very cheap at the moment, around pounds 25 for 8 megabytes. But do be careful. There are half a dozen flavours of memory. Check with the PC manufacturer and see what type you need to buy. Also check where you are buying the memory that you have got the right stuff. Then if there is a problem you can always take it back and get the right type. Memory is a great present. Nothing improves the performance of a slow PC more than putting in extra memory.

Installing a new hard disc is getting much easier. You can buy a 2 gigabyte hard disc for as little as pounds 125 or a 4 gigabyte hard disc for around pounds 350. You can set up your computer so that the new disc will take over as your main disc and, as discs are much faster than they were a couple of years ago, not only will you get more breathing space, your computer should go quicker.

One thing to look at this Christmas could be your printer. The standard of colour printing on special papers is now simply astounding. Lexmark recently demonstrated its 7200. Using a special print head on special paper which costs around 12p per sheet, the pictures were unbelievable. The output, which would have required a pounds 3,000 machine just two or three years ago, comes from a machine that costs only pounds 280.

Another big advance comes from companies like Canon and Hewlett Packard. These and others supply multi-function printers that will work as a plain- paper fax, a copier, a scanner and a printer all for around pounds 450.