The personal computer market has matured. In the old days, IBM, Commodore, Apple and a few others stood alone as the manufactures of quality machines. Today, dozens of newcomers have brought their offerings to the table. Thus, procurement officers have a broad and diverse array from which to choose.

When examining their needs, procurement people must consider how the machine is going to meet the needs of the job. Obviously, an office assistant doesn't need 180MHz of speed to perform word processing, while an engineer using a CAD program will be hindered with a 66MHz model. While anyone would love a lightning-fast PC fully rigged with surround-sound speakers, a CD-ROM player and 20 million colors, such a machine may not be the best one for the job.

SMALL BOXES

Compaq Computer Corp. has a reputation for producing quality PCs. Their line includes the DeskPro, DeskPro XL, Prolinea and others. The DeskPro offers intelligent management features, including AssetControl, which allows managers, for example, to analyze and track office desktops on-site or remotely.

Another feature is the IntelliSafe hard drive, which predicts and alerts the user of an impending failure. This allows users a supplementary safeguard, in addition to regular backups, to protect valuable data. As an added bonus, Compaq includes a pre-failure warranty that allows users to replace the drive before it fails.

The DeskPro offers a broad range of standard processor speeds and comes with a 32-bit PCI, Ethernet or IBM ISA Token Ring with preinstalled network drivers, 8MB or 16MB of standard RAM (expandable to 192MB), two PCI/ISA shared slots, hard-drive memory varying from 840MB to 2GB, and more.

It also comes with software programs preinstalled, including Windows 95 or 3.1, Compaq Insight Management for Windows 95, Compaq Diagnostics for Windows Utility, Compaq Control Center, Network Setup Utility and Ethernet NIC drivers.

For workers who need higher levels of performance, the DeskPro XL might be the ticket. This machine offers top-level performance with a processor speed that starts at 100MHz and includes a 1.05GB or 2.1GB hard drive. An obvious workhorse, the XL includes enough memory and speed for high-end applications, such as AutoDesk's AutoCAD or graphics programs like PhotoShop or QuarkXpress.

Unlike many other computers, the XL contains a SilentCool fan that prevents users from having to listen to the constant "hum" that can be heard on most PCs. It also offers multimedia capabilities, including an optional quad-speed CD-ROM or re-writeable PD-CD drive, an integrated high-fidelity speaker and microphone, volume control, an external microphone and headphone jacks.

Managers working under budget constraints may want to research the ProLinea, a full-featured, price-competitive machine that comes standard with energy-saving features. The ProLinea comes in 100MHz, 120MHz, 133MHz, 150MHz or 160MHz models which can be upgraded at any time. The ProLinea contains two PC/ISA shared slots, two ISA slots, one Compaq option slot, three externally accessible drive bays and one internal drive bay.

It also features first-rate security, including a power-on password, setup password, QuickLock, QuickBlank, keyboard password, network server mode, diskette boot control, diskette control, FLASH ROM lock, parallel interface control, serial interface control, diskette drive control, hard drive control and U-bolt/cable lock provision.

For more information, contact Compaq Computer Corp., P.O. Box 692000, Houston, TX 77269, or call 800/345-1518.

SWAN DRIVE

Swan Technologies makes an all-out effort to help its customers. If you're uncertain of what PC features you need, the company supplies a handy guide called The Swan Technologies PC Configuration Planning Guide. This convenient reference explains basic features included in its product line. Swan's goal is to help you get the maximum computing value, build a computer configuration with the correct options for the tasks you wish to perform, and identify the computer with the best performance to meet your needs.