To TV or PC-TV


HE'S the kind of person who has his CDs stored in an alphabetical tower, beside his surround sound stereo on matt black living room furniture. He has read the manuals from cover to cover and knows how to program the remote control, and connect the TV to the speakers. And he's just dying to add the latest piece of technology to the collection.

Mr Aspirational Buyer is a thumbnail sketch of the person who will be spending over £3,000 on Mitsubishi's new PC-TV, although "those are words we don't use to refer to this product," Peter Pearson, its group marketing manager said when he presented the PC in Dublin earlier this month.

"A PC-TV is an entry level system with a 14 inch monitor of dubious quality," he contends. Instead the Apricot MS530 Diamondtron has a 17 inch monitor and Pentium processor. Floppy disk and CD-Rom drives are hidden behind a clip up panel on the bottom of the screen (like the TV tuner buttons), and speakers are built into each side of the monitor. A remote control (with colour coding for dummies) can be used instead of the keyboard and mouse.

The TV can operate in the background as you work in the main window, or take over the monitor completely. Picture quality is good, we were assured, although the TV line at our demonstration was only delivering snow. Frames can be frozen and printed from either video or live TV. The machine also has fax and voice mail capabilities.

The people at Mitsubishi believe the machine is more likely to be in the home office than in the living room - hence the Diamondtron is most definitely PC-coloured, with not a mall black part in sight.

"This fits the customers' expectations of a computer," Pearson says. "It is a computer product so we have it in a computer colour."

The home PC market here, and in Britain has proved toe have an appetite for the more expensive end of the product range. "Rather than playing at the low end, home users are looking for a high speed Pentium system," Pearson says.

Mitsubishi bought Apricot in 1990 and started selling Apricot computers here last April. They are coy about sales figures in Ireland, but say they have four per cent of the home PC market in Britain and around seven per cent of the business market.

Mitsubishi's big seller is televisions - it has sold more than half a million sets in Ireland - but "if all you're looking for is a PC to run your business at home then you probably won't buy this," Pearson says.

The 120MHz model costs £3,018.95 while the 166MHz one retails at £3,984.95, both including VAT.