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A solid alternative

Premio’s Calypso will fill your PC needs if they aren’t too extravagant.

I confess to a preference for build-to-order computers. You can, as they used to say at Burger King, have it your way. I didn’t get to specify the equipment on the Premio Calypso computer I tested (it was as delivered to CU’s office), but was impressed with the punch of its 650MHz Intel Pentium III processor and the compact package it came wrapped in.

Immediately upon opening the box, it was obvious that this would be the perfect homework computer for my wife, who is currently taking night classes. The slim (12.5-by-14.25-by-3.5 inches) case is available in black or white and is bundled with a cradle that allows space-saving vertical mounting. The cradle holds the case securely, but discs tend to fall out of the 52X Creative CD-ROM drive when the computer is placed in that position. For some reason, a modem wasn’t specified for this system, but since the motherboard has two PCI slots, it’s just a matter time before I’ll install one.

Setup was a snap. I placed the Calypso in the cradle, attached a 17-inch CTX monitor that was lying around, plugged an Epson Stylus Color 900 into one of the two front-mounted USB ports, and turned it on. After installing the Epson printer driver, Mary was ready to work.

The system came pre-installed with Windows 98 SE, although Windows 2000 is optional. Like all new Windows computers unencumbered by the junk we add to them, the system ran fast–you could actually see the power of all 650MHz. Although Microsoft Works and Money were already installed, I added Microsoft Office 2000 and Adobe Photoshop LE. Both performed spectacularly, working through the Intel direct AGP 2D.3D on-board Graphics.

The keyboard is Microsoft’s ergonomically designed Natural keyboard. This particular computer was placed on a table that was tight for space, but the keyboard is easier to use if you have adequate desktop space for its big footprint. The mouse is Microsoft’s scrolling wheel mouse that’s well-constructed, comfortable, and a pleasure to use.

The Calypso came preinstalled with a network controller for office use in a LAN environment, but my guess is that most of these compact computers will end up in home use. A SoundMax 16-bit audio system is built-in, and Premio sent a set of humongous speakers to use with the system, but after installing all of the goodies to make the system useful as a homework computer, there was no room for these big boys.

After initial setup and software installation, Premio’s Calypso performed flawlessly with no glitches or problems of any kind. If there was a problem, Premio includes a Quick Fix feature with a self-healing module that lets the system reconstruct protected software components by recovering deleted or damaged system files, as well as repairing corrupted drivers or registry entries. This process allows computer users to fix software problems without having to call customer service.

The Calypso is available with either Pentium III or Celeron processors and is an excellent alternative to all of those Windows-based iMac clones out there.

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