All-Purpose PC Offered; Averatec Operates on Windows Media Software

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Byline: Mark Kellner, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

TriGem, a Taiwanese firm trading as Averatec in this country, has done something rather audacious: It has put together an all-in-one PC that rivals the Apple iMac in appearance but is about two-thirds the cost of the least-expensive iMac. Averatec's D1002UHCE-1 desktop computer is on sale now at the firm's online store - and, apparently, only there - for $849, a good $350 less than the 20-inch iMac unveiled last week.

To be fair to Apple, we are talking apples and oranges here: The iMac, which I hope to review shortly, is a far different computer from the Averatec D1002UHCE-1, with a different operating system, different hardware specs, and a different target audience from TriGem's model. The D1002UHCE-1 is most likely a computer that'll find its place in a number of homes, at-home offices and dorm rooms, while the iMac could, and often does, work its way into those venues as well as corporate offices. Moreover, iMacs have been, and still are, more solid performers.

It's a bit dicey to play psychologist when one is not trained or licensed to do so, but let me preface this evaluation with a little analysis. The concept of an all-in-one computer, as I've seen it, is to pack the features a user might need, starting with a good display, into a package small enough to make it attractive to many kinds of users. The 22-inch display integrated into the D1002UHCE-1 is a good one, and both computer images and video are pleasing to the eye.

The design of an all-in-one should be pleasing also, and here, too, TriGem/Averatec scores. Apple has the patent on truly stunning design, but the D1002UHCE-1 is no ugly duckling. Its black case and relatively thin profile are good enough for most settings.

One big difference with the D1002UHCE-1 is that it's intended to handle more in terms of multimedia out of the box than just playing music CDs or video DVDs. There's a built-in TV tuner, which, connected to a pair of rabbit ears, should have pulled in far more analog and HD channels than it did. I had better results last summer with Hewlett-Packard's TouchSmart all-in-one than I did with the D1002UHCE-1, even though both were tested in the same location in my house using the same antenna. It's possible that many more analog stations were turned off in mid-February than I had suspected, but performance is lacking.

It's also sad that TriGem/Averatec didn't include an FM tuner with the system. …