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Packard Bell Wedge PC

Consumer electronics companies often talk about the "Difi" factor. Difi stands for "does it fit in?" and it's one of the most important decisions we make when buying a piece of home electronics, such as a television or hi-fi system. A television that promises the best picture quality around is likely to be rejected if it looks ugly or clashes with the wallpaper.

With more and more personal computers being aimed at the home market, computer companies are now having to consider the Difi factor. Enter Packard Bell with its Executive 907D, or, to give it its nickname, the Wedge. It is shaped like a square birthday cake with a large slice cut out of the front, and is designed to fit snugly into corners and the various nooks and crannies around the home.

The Wedge is certainly eyecatching - when you look at the PC face on, the floppy disk drive is angled to the left, while the CD-Rom drive is on the right.

Setting up the Wedge is a fairly straightforward procedure, and Packard Bell has thoughtfully provided colour-coded cables that help to make connection easier. The Wedge comes with 8 megabytes of RAM, a 1.2-gigabyte hard disk and a comms package consisting of a 28.8 fax modem, answerphone and speaker phone.

There is plenty of preloaded software, including Microsoft's Windows 95 and Works. You also get tons of bundled CD-Roms, which include games and reference titles. Tekkies can go straight into Windows 95, but others may prefer Packard Bell's neat graphical navigation system, which uses a series of rooms (a living room, software room and information room) for selecting features and software.

So the Wedge is fairly well specified, easy to install and simple to use. But what about the Difi factor? I have to admit that I wasn't convinced by Packard Bell's claims. Few people would want to work on a PC shoved in a tight corner, and the Wedge looks bulkier than a conventional PC.

With this in mind, I turned to my wife for her assessment, confident that she would support my claims. How wrong I was. "Isn't that beautiful? It's gorgeous, I love it. I wouldn't mind using that," was her response. This from a woman who would normally prefer to touch a snake rather than a computer. If my wife's reaction is anything to go by, the Wedge could well end up in many homes this year.

Packard Bell's 907D costs pounds 1,799 with a 14-inch monitor or pounds 1,893 with 15-inch version (prices include VAT). Available from Alders, Curry's, Dixons, John Lewis and PC World.

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