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COMPUTER FILE

Radio Shack Remains a Contender

August 12, 1985|Lawrence J. Magid | Lawrence J. Magid is executive vice president of Know How, a San Francisco-based microcomputer education company

Tandy's IBM-compatible machines are priced considerably below similarly equipped IBM systems. Many IBM dealers, however, offer substantial discounts so that the actual difference between the two machines may be less.

Uses TV as Monitor

Radio Shack's Color Computer starts at $219.95 for a 64K system. The low-end machine hooks can use your color TV as a monitor and a cassette tape recorder to save and load data. Programs can be loaded via optional software cartridges that range in price from $29.95 for games and educational programs to $99.95 for an "advanced" word-processing program. The machine accommodates as many as four optional disk drives. If you're using the machine for more than playing games, I suspect you'll want at least one disk drive ($349.95 for the first drive).

Before you buy any stripped-down computer, think about the options you're likely to need and compute a total price. Sometimes a "more expensive" model costs less in the long run.

Tandy long ago stopped producing the original Model 1, but it has continued the line. The Model 4, which will soon be discontinued, comes with two single-sided (180K) disk drives and 64K of RAM, expandable to 128K. It was recently on sale for $799. It will be replaced in late October with the 4D, which will come with two double-sided (368K) drives and 64K of RAM and the DeskMate integrated software package. It will sell for $1,199, according to a Tandy representative. These computers run the original TRS-DOS operating system as well as the popular CP/M operating system.

Radio Shack also offers a full line of printers, modems, cables and other accessories, many of which are compatible with non-Radio Shack machines. Finally, there are hundreds of little items such as disks, disk holders, disk drive cleaners, anti-glare screens, plugs and more. Almost every computer user I know makes an occasional visit to the "Shack" for an odd part or two.

The Computer File welcomes readers' comments but regrets that the authors cannot respond individually to letters. Write to Lawrence J. Magid, 4 Embarcadero Center, Suite 1970, San Francisco, Calif. 94111.

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