IBM's new 'junior' model - expensive but adaptable

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

IBM officials tout the PCjr's ease of use around the home, in classrooms, or in small business applications. They note that while PCjr is expensive, it is self-instructional and is backed by IBM warranty and service.

''That should put many people at ease,'' says IBM official J. Lyle McGuire. ''It has the same level of quality as all our products.''

The computer is not just for novices, IBM's Charles Pankenier said at the unveiling of the PCjr Tuesday. It is also for people already using an IBM computer. Most software for the more expensive IBM Personal Computer can be used with PCjr; limitations come with programs that require more memory than PCjr has. With the proper attachments the PC and PCjr can be linked.

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PCjr does not come cheap, however.

The new computer, which will be available early next year, is being sold in two types of packages. For $669 a buyer gets a cordless keyboard that communicates through infrared light with a processing unit. That system unit uses cartridge programs, with 64K of memory (65,536 characters). For $1,269 a buyer gets the keyboard and system unit with 128K memory, using both cartridge and diskette.

Those prices do not include TV-screen monitors or printers, although company officials say a home TV is a suitable display. An IBM-brand color display runs $ 680, and a new IBM compact printer is $175 (a new color printer costs $1,995). Then there are joystick controls, keyboard overlays, power cords, adapter cables , and so on.

The most interesting aspect of the PCjr is the keyboard: ultralight, battery powered, and featuring an infrared link with the system. One can operate the computer from up to 20 feet away without using a cord (although if more than one PCjr is in the room a cord is required).

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