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                          by Adam Smith

                     ---PC SHOPPING PLANET---

                         December 22, 1997

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     HOLIDAY IDEAS- Part Three of Three: A roundup of the 
     coolest toys for the holiday season. 

     ITEMS- Justice rules on Microsoft, agreement on 56K 

     HOT DEALS- Be sure to check out Shopping Planet's 
     weekly specials!

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This week I look at some lower priced gifts that would be
appreciated by any computer user.


With rare exceptions, most computer users enjoy some kind of
computer game. There is a reason Solitaire never crashes. It
is probably the most tested Windows program in history!


Sid Meier is something of a legend in the sim segment, and CIV
II (the new name for Civilization II) is certainly one of the
best ever. I have mentioned this highly addicting game before,
and still recommend it highly as one of the best games of the

Already have CIV II? Then the Scenarios and Fantastic Worlds
add-on packs are must-haves. The scenario pack comes with 12
new professional and 8 new player scenarios, and over 100 new
units. The Fantastic Worlds scenario pack expands CIV II
beyond its traditional history based theme into the realms of
Science Fiction and Fantasy. It also gives you a full set of
editors to create your own worlds! Design new units,
technological advances, terrain and other CIV II features. 

  X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter-

For all you would-be Luke Skywalkers or Darth Vaders out
there, LucasArts has your ride. X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter is the
latest version of their popular series of space combat
simulations. Featuring richly textured spaceships and exciting
play action, this game is truly spectacular to play. One
criticism was that with a focus on Internet play, the game
shortchanged the user on standalone play scenarios. That is
remedied with the new Balance of Power add-in pack. 30 new
missions provide the opportunity to fight for the light or the
dark side.

  Jedi Knight, Dark Forces II-

Also from LucasArts is the first person fighter, Jedi Knight,
Dark Forces II. First person fighters give me motion sickness
in ways that no rollercoaster yet designed is able, so I don't
play them, but I have it from reliable sources that this one
is a hoot. You even get a lightsaber! Experience the world of
Star Wars in cool 3D worlds that are faithful to the production
design of the movies.


The best selling CD-ROM in history, Myst, now has a
long-awaited sequel. Riven expands on Myst by creating a much
larger and more detailed world to explore. The game comes on 5

The original game had its detractors. Some people found it
boring, while others simply couldn't understand the point of a
game where there is nothing to shoot at, no point scoring, and
you can't die. Others praised the game for those same reasons.
Myst was one of the first computer games to establish a big
following among women! Riven hasn't changed those aspects, so
if you are a buying for a fan of the original, or perhaps a
member of the fair sex who isn't turned on by more
conventional computer games, by all means go ahead and get the


  Wave-Table Sound Cards-

While new sound options are being introduced, many people are
still suffering with the most minimal PC audio: an FM
synthesis sound card. Wave-Table cards are now available for
bargain prices, and it is one upgrade that can improve all
aspects of computing. Midi files from web pages spring to life
with realistic sounding instruments instead of the beeps and
boops of FM synthesized sound. Many games take on a whole new
dimension with wavetable capability. Creative Labs is even
offering rebates on some products. The Sound Blaster 16
WavEffects card has 32-Voice Wave-Table technology and runs
around $50 after the $25 mail-in rebate.

  56K Modems-

With the announcement of an industry standard for 56K modems
(see item, below), now may be the time to upgrade. Current 56K
modems should be software upgradable to the new standard with
patches that will be available early next year. In choosing a
modem, first you must determine which standard (if any) your
Internet provider currently supports. If you need an X2 modem,
one from US Robotics/3COM should do the trick. For people
needing 56 KFLEX modems, the Supra seems to be the one to

A recent test by Boardwatch magazine revealed that most
Internet backbones cannot provide data any faster than 50 Kb/s
or so, so a 56K modem should provide all the speed you need
for the time being!


  Genius Net Mouse-

Cruising the Internet or just navigating any document is
easier with the Genius Net Mouse. A special scroll button
between the normal mouse buttons allows you to scroll your
document horizontally and vertically. This design reduces
fatigue even better than Microsoft's little roller wheel that
you have to keep twiddling. One click scrolls the document as
far as needed in any direction!

  Power Conditioning-

Whether you believe all the hype about El Nińo or not, adverse
weather, power company error, or the accidents of everyday
life can pose a serious threat to computers. The power coming
through your line is usually nothing to worry about, but
incidents do happen. 

A high quality surge protector is good insurance against
costly damage caused by power irregularities. The inexpensive
surge protectors that most people buy are little more than
glorified outlet strips. A simple power spike can knock out
all the protection in such a unit, and you would have no way
of knowing! Instead, look for a protector that has LED
indicators or even an audible alarm to warn when protection
has been compromised. A good indication of quality is the
equipment protection coverage that comes with any good unit.
Quality units can be found for around $40-$50, and I would
recommend using one for any expensive electronics you may
have. Computers, stereos, video gear, and home theatre
installations all need this kind of protection!

Those desiring an even greater level of security should
consider an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) that will
provide continuous regulated power to you computer for a
period of time in the event of a brownout or blackout. This
allows you to save your work and safely shut down the system.
Costlier models totally isolate your system from the line
current, making damage impossible under even the worst


-Last week, U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson
ordered Microsoft to stop forcing hardware vendors to include
IE4 on new computers as a condition of installing Windows.
This week, in an action sure to cause controversy, Microsoft
released Windows 95 OSR 2.5 to system vendors. OSR 2.5
contains IE4 code already integrated with Windows so that
they cannot be installed separately. Microsoft contends that
this is not a violation of the judge's order, because vendors
are still free to install an earlier version of Windows 95.

-Bickering modem and chip manufacturers have finally reached a
preliminary accord to create a single standard for 56K
modems.  Until now, the 56K technology was divided into two
camps: USR/3COM's X2 technology, and Rockwell's 56 KFLEX. With
a standards agreement all but in place, more Internet
providers will be willing to invest in the necessary hardware
to provide 56K service to their customers. Sales of 56K modems
have been sluggish so far, due to lack of standards. 



- IOMEGA ZIP 100 MB ATAPI/IDE internal____________$  99.99
- MAXTOR 81071A2 1.08 Gb EIDE_____________________$  99.99
- TURTLE BEACH 4X Full Multimedia Kit_____________$  64.99
- 32 MB 72 pins 60 ns EDO_________________________$  69.99
- 16 MB 72 pins 60 ns EDO_________________________$  34.99
- MITSUMI 24X Internal CD ROM_____________________$  74.99
- M Technology M549 TX motherboard________________$  80.00
- GOLDSTAR 17" monitor____________________________$ 299.00
- AMD K6 200 MHz w/MMX technology_________________$ 200.60
- VIVITAR Flatbed Color Scanner (24-bit)__________$ 109.99*
   * After $25.00 mail-in rebate


- PROMISE SCSIULTRA Wide Ultra SCSI Controller____$ 131.70
  This Ultra Wide SCSI PCI controller card is fast,
  reliable and inexpensive.  Try it and Love It.

- CREATIVE LABS VIBRA, 24X CD-ROM Multimedia______$ 149.30
  Sound Blaster 16, 32-voice wave-table audio,
  CD-quality recording and playbck; next-generation
  Creative 24x CD-ROM drive for up to 3,600 KB/second
  transfer rate; and Internet software. 

- SYQUEST SPARQ 1.0 GB Internal IDE w/cartridge___$ 199.60
  Hard drive performance on a removeable media drive.
  1GB per cartridge, easy to install and use, uses IDE
  interface, uses IDE mode 4 speeds of up to 16.6MB/sec
  burst - 3.7MB/sec - 6.9MB/sec sustained and 12ms
  access time.  This is a Great Deal!!!

- EPSON PHOTOPLUS Color Scanner 1200-dpi PC_______$ 101.10
  Digitize your pictures and business cards The
  perfect match for your digital camera. Easy to
  scan pictures and business cards. Connects to
  parallel port. Maximum scan size: 4.1"W x 10"L

- IOMEGA DITTO 2GB Insider Floppy Controller______$ 119.80
  Install in 5 minutes, backs up 2 MB in one easy step.

- ASUS P2L97 Pentium II motherboard_______________$ 224.40
  Intel LX Chipset, 2 ISA, 5 PCI, 1 AGP slots. Ultra
  DMA compatible (up to 33.3 Mb/sec). 3 DIMM/SDRAM
  memory slots. ATX Form Factor.
  This motherboard is Fast!!

- MATROX M3D 3D Dougther Card 4MB SDRAM___________$  98.00
  The best 3D graphic card you can get. Works with
  existing graphics card or Matrox accelerator. Get 30
  frames/second speed and resolutions up to 1024x768.

- MAXTOR 8.40GB EIDE Ultra DMA DiamondMax PC______$ 381.30
  The new Maxtor DiamondMax Hard Drive Series. Ultra DMA
  Mode (up to 33 Mbps), seek time <9.7 ms.
  Great Performce!!

- Motherboard Upgrade Kit #11_____________________$ 679.70
  Feature Intel Pentium II 233 MHz CPU, M Technology
  M628 Motherboard, Intel 440 LX Chipset, 512 Kb Cache
  4ISA/3PCI/1AGP, AT Form Factor. Manuals, Cables and
  Instructions. Ready to jump to Pentium II generation

- FIC PA2007 1024 KB Cache, VIA Chipset Pentium___$ 119.60
  One of the hottest motherboard in the market.
  Features 1024 KB of cache, 3PCI/4ISA, supports Ultra
  DMA mode, up to 233 MHz CPU (MMX), AT Form Factor.

- Kit #30 Motherbaord Upgrade Kit_________________$ 429.70
  This full upgrade kit features: AMD K6 200MHz MMX
  Pentium Motherboard, 512 Kb pipeline cache, cables,
  32 MB EDO, 2MB PCI Graphic Card, ISA Sound Card
  Full solution for your system.

- WESTERN DIGITAL Caviar 6.4GB Ultra DMA__________$ 312.20
  The latest Hard Drive from Westrern Digital. 6.4 GB of
  capacity, 33.3 Mbps of transfer rate (supports Ultra
  DMA mode), 9.5 ms average access time and the experince of
  Western Digital backing up the drive.


- Kit #15 Upgrade motherboard Kit_________________$ 387.10
  Featuring INTEL 200MHz MMX CPU and the high performance
  M Technology R534 Motherboard, with 512 Kb Cache
  Upgrade you system with full MMX features!!!

- Kit #23 Upgrade motherboard Kit_________________$ 257.40
  Featuring Cyrix M2 200MHz CPU and the high performance
  M Technology R534 Motherboard, with 512 Kb Cache
  running at 75 MHz!!.

- Kit #22 Upgrade motherboard Kit_________________$ 321.20
  AMD K6 200 MHz CPU w/MMX technology, plus the highly
  recommended M.Technology R540 motherboard with INTEL
  TX chipset and Ultra DMA hard Disk controller (up to
  33.3 Mbps)

- Kit #29 Motherboard Upgrade Kit_________________$ 384.30
  Featuring: AMD K6 166MHz MMX CPU, M Tech R549 Pentium
  Motherboard, 512KB of cache, 32 MB EDO memory, 2MB
  Graphic Card and SoundBlaster Sound Card.
  Everything tested and configured. 


******  $50.00 Mail-in Rebate from US Robotics  *******
- US Robotics 56K internal modem__________________$ 193.80
- US Robotics 56K external modem__________________$ 213.30
- US Robotics 56K internal + voicemail____________$ 213.30
- US Robotics 56K external + voicemail____________$ 232.70
******  Prices BEFORE the $50.00 mail-in rebate  ******

- AcerOpen 56K internal with voicemail____________$  95.00
- AcerOpen 33.6K internal with voicemail__________$  62.50
- CREATIVE LABS Modem Blaster 56K w/voice_________$ 106.20
- Diamond Supraexpress 56K internal Modem_________$ 145.30
- Diamond Supraexpress 56K external Modem_________$ 136.60


- 8 MB, 72 pin, 60 ns, EDO non-parity_____________$  17.80
- 16 MB, 72 pin, 60 ns, EDO non-parity____________$  34.99
- 32 MB, 72 pin, 60 ns EDO________________________$  69.99
- 32 MB, 168 pin 60 ns EDO DIMM___________________$  77.20
- 64 MB, 168 pin 60 ns EDO DIMM___________________$ 157.30


- Intel Pentium 133 MHz___________________________$ 102.90
- Intel Pentium 150 MHz___________________________$ 107.80
- Intel Pentium 166 MHz MMX_______________________$ 124.99
- Intel Pentium 200 MHz MMX_______________________$ 250.30
- Intel Pentium 233 MHz MMX_______________________$ 346.00
- Cyrix M2 166 MHz MMX____________________________$  99.99
- Cyrix M2 200 MHz MMX____________________________$ 124.99
- Cyrix M2 233 MHz MMX____________________________$ 303.70
- AMD K5 PR-166 MHz_______________________________$ 101.00
- AMD K6-166 MHz__________________________________$ 163.10
- AMD K6-200 MHz__________________________________$ 200.60
- AMD K6-233 MHz__________________________________$ 295.60


- M Technology M549 TX motherboard________________$  80.00
- M Technology R540 TX chipset 512 KB_____________$  94.30
- M Technology R534F (for Cyrix P200+) 512 KB_____$ 105.00
- FIC PA2007 1023 KB Cache, VIA Chipset Pentium___$ 119.60
- ABIT PX5 TX 512K JUMPPERLESS____________________$ 112.20
- ASUS TX97 TX 512K_______________________________$ 165.80


- Western Digital 1.6 Gb__________________________$ 158.60
- Western Digital 2.0 Gb__________________________$ 165.40
- Western Digital 3.2 Gb__________________________$ 247.10
- Western Digital 4.0 Gb__________________________$ 238.70
- Western Digital 4.3 GB (Ultra DMA)______________$ 235.00
- Western Digital 5.1 GB (Ultra DMA)______________$ 282.80
- Western Digital 6.4 GB (Ultra DMA)______________$ 312.20
- QUANTUM Fireball 1.6 GB (Ultra DMA)_____________$ 162.80
- QUANTUM Fireball 2.1 GB (Ultra DMA)_____________$ 187.50
- QUANTUM Fireball 3.2 GB (Ultra DMA)_____________$ 192.40
- QUANTUM Fireball 4.3 GB (Ultra DMA)_____________$ 269.30
- QUANTUM Fireball 6.4 GB (Ultra DMA)_____________$ 348.90
- JTS Champion 2.0 GB_____________________________$ 149.00
- JTS Champion 2.5 GB_____________________________$ 176.80
- JTS Champion 3.0 GB_____________________________$ 188.80


- DIAMOND 3D 2000, 2 MB EDO_______________________$  61.80
- DIAMOND 3D 2000, 4 MB EDO_______________________$  97.40
- DIAMOND 3D 3000, 2 MB VRAM______________________$ 123.60
- DIAMOND 3D 3000, 4 MB VRAM______________________$ 180.50
- TRIDENT 9680 PCI, 2 MB DRAM_____________________$  33.20
- ATI All-in-wonder, 4 MB DRAM____________________$ 220.30
- ATI 3D PRO TURBO PC2TV 8MB SGRAM________________$ 180.20


- Digiview, 15", 0.28 mm, digital control_________$ 203.60
- Digiview, 17", 0.28 mm, on screen control_______$ 419.80
- Viewsonic Optiquest Q17, 17" 0.28 mm____________$ 467.40
- GOLDSTAR 17" .39 mm on digital control__________$ 299.00


- MITSUMI 24X Internal CD ROM Drive_______________$  74.99
- MITSUMI 16X CD ROM (up to 2.4 Mb/sec)___________$  64.50
- MITSUMI 8X CD-ROM (1200 Kbps transfer rate)_____$  57.10
- ESS 1868 PnP Sound Card Full Duplex_____________$  25.00
- SoundBlaster AWE64 IDE PnP PC___________________$  94.80
- SoundBlaster 16 IDE PC Sound Card_______________$  42.40
- WAVE BW-115H Speaker System 180 Watts___________$  29.99
- TURTLE BEACH 4X Full Multimedia Kit_____________$  64.99
  4X CD-ROM, Speakers, Sound Card, cables & instruction

          Please visit our site for our complete catalog
                       and company information.


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