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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Taking the Byte out of Computer Shopping

Buying a computer is a bit like buying a car: Every additional goodie you get to go with it drives up the cost.

Before you go shopping, figure out what you need, and that will determine requirements for RAM size, hard disk space, speed and whatever extras you can afford.

If you've decided to take the IBM route, you'll find it much easier going since IBM-type computers have been here much longer. Macintosh fans, don't despair -- even Power Macintoshs are available if you know where to look.

A good way to price shop -- and find out whether you should wait for your next trip abroad to buy -- is to find recent issues of computer magazines like MacUser and scan the ads, which list prices for any kind of computer and peripherals such as printers, which are sold at all the stores that follow, and modems.

Major Moscow computer outlets include:

Radio Shack, 3 Shchulkovskoye Shosse, 367-9310. Ironically, the selection at the world's largest Radio Shack is not as extensive as would be expected. But they do carry full systems and lots of peripherals.

Most of the systems available are Tandy, Radio Shack's house brand, but other lines are also sold. A Compaq computer with a 486 processor, 4MB RAM and a 200MB hard drive costs $1,480, while an IBM with a Pentium chip goes for $5,702.

A box of 3 1/2-inch floppy disks costs $3.24 for 3 disks or $5.19 for 5 1/4-inch floppies. A printer cable costs $15.59. For those seeking a fully equipped computer environment, an anti-static mousepad runs $6.89, a polarized filter for your monitor costs $26.99 and a wristpad will set you back $17.99. A Best Data internal 14.4 baud fax/modem costs $224, while the 2400 baud internal fax/modem costs $72.

Radio Shack is the place for fun (and costly) toys. A Media Visions Fusion CD setup, which includes an internal CD-ROM, stereo speakers, and sound card, costs $319.99. And after you've bought one of those, you can pick up the educational children's game "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?", among other games on both CD-ROM or floppy disk.

The software is not all fun and games, however. Microsoft Office, which includes PowerPoint, Mail, Excel and Word, goes for $309.99. WordPerfect for Windows 6.0a is $194.99 and Excel for Windows 5.0 runs $109.99.

If you cannot find what you want, take a copy of their catalog. Anything can be ordered from it, but you have to call for prices.

Global USA, 35 Ulitsa Usacheva, 245-5879. Despite the rather stern-looking militiaman with the big gun, the atmosphere is like walking into a well-crammed rynok because they simply do not have space for all the stuff they sell and the customers.

Computers by IBM, Compaq, Dell, Zenith and AST are on display. The least expensive was the AST 486SX/25CT for $995 with 4MB RAM, 170MB hard drive and a 1.44MB disk drive. There was everything in between, up to the Dell Omniplex, with 16MB RAM, a 1GB hard drive and 1.44MB floppy drive for $3,695.

Global offers three types of PowerBooks in stock. The PowerBook Duo 210 with 4MB RAM and an 80MB hard drive will run $1,695. Be forewarned that Duos do not come equipped with a floppy disk drive -- it was designed to be the portable part of a larger system -- and a separate disk drive requires a mini-dock, which costs $175, so you can connect it to the computer, and the drive itself, which runs an additional $265. The new PowerBook 520 is available with 4MB RAM and 160MB hard drive for $2,895.

They also offer internal Zoom fax/modems ranging from $365 for a 28.8 baud V.Fast Class data transmission modem, to $195 for a 14.4 baud model.

Global USA does not take orders.

ComputerLand, 8 Kutuzovsky Prospekt, 243-7228. The store is small and the selection even smaller. Unlike in the other stores, the computers are displayed on narrow shelves that make it difficult to take the mouse and experiment. The laptops are completely out of reach behind the counter.

An IBM PS/1 with 486 processor, 4MB RAM and 250MB hard drive sells for $2,900 and comes loaded with DOS 6.0, Windows 3.1 and Works for Windows. The laptops, mostly Compaq, all with 4MB RAM and hard drives between 120-290MB, go for between $2,500 and $4,330.

The accessories include a power strip with surge protector for $29 and accordion-style folded computer paper for $27. A box of 3 1/2-inch disks cost $17 for 10, and $10 for 5 1/4-inch disks. A plastic storage box for 3 1/2-inch disks cost $12 and the one for 5 1/4-inch disks goes for $15.

Orders take about 45 days.

MicroAge, 53 Leningradsky Prospekt, 564-8222. The store is pleasant to visit, thanks to a recent renovation and the helpful sales personnel. There is a printed price list with a wide selection of computers, including Digital, IBM, Compaq, Hewlett Packard and Apple machines. If you do not have any idea what you want, you can try the machines out at the store.

One of the more inexpensive models, a Digital Venturis with a 486 processor, 4MB RAM and 270MB hard drive costs $1,272 excluding a monitor -- but including a Russian keyboard, mouse, DOS, Windows, accelerator and a three-year warranty. One of the more expensive computers listed was a Compaq notebook 400CX with a 486DX2 processor, 4MB RAM and 250MB hard drive for $4,900. All prices include delivery and installation, and if you buy other software, they will install that too.

They also had Macintosh LCs with 4MB RAM, 80MB hard drive and a 14-inch color monitor for $2,427 as well as a PowerBook 520c with 4MB RAM, 160MB hard drive and color monitor for $4,548. They also have the new Power Macintosh 6100/60 with 16MB RAM, 250MB hard drive and a 14-inch color monitor for $5,662.

MicroAge offers programs like Lotus 1-2-3 and the Microsoft Office package in Russian. Lotus 1-2-3 in either English or Russian costs $132. MS Office in Russian is $335, while Word and Excel in either English or Russian run $196 each.

Items listed which are not currently in stock can be ordered and received generally in two to four weeks.