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This is a tricky one. I am an IT professional, but I bought a machine which most of my peers would not have touched. And I suppose only now I am getting frustrated.
I bought the Aptiva from Comet for £999 last Christmas. PIII 500, DVD and 17" monitor was the criteria I set. It only had 64MB RAM, but that was ok for beginners. I bought it from Comet for the interest free credit. I still consider it a good deal.
There was not much software with the machine - Lotus Smartsuite (which I would not use nowadays - our office uses MS Office, and it is so much easier to use the same). A few games were thrown in by Comet though. I primarily wanted the machine for VB programming at home. And the machine was fine. Fast, lots of hard disk space, decent monitor.
The whole package is very nice. Colour coded cables and ports. Nice flap for the hidden 2nd drive bay. Good utility software.
I soon added a CD writer, and 64MB more RAM. Now, that is both of the memory slots taken up (should be ok for a couple of years though), but more worrying - all of the disk bays - 2x3.5" and 2x5.24". The CD used a SCSI card, leaving only one free expansion slot.
A few months ago, I bought a digital video editing card (Pyro - see review elsewhere - it is excellent), and the last slot is used. I bought another hard disk last week, completely forgetting about the lack of bays. So I considered fabricating some kind of mounting. But then I noticed there was no spare power lead. Hmmm, buy a splitter I thought. But then I notice the miserly 100W power supply. Come on IBM, give us a little bit of scope please! I am going to buy a firewire disk cradle. That should do the trick, but it is all more money.
I was thinking of buying a new case, but the layout of the motherboard and ports seem to prohibit this. This is where the review dilema comes. For the average user, this machine is excellent. Everything about it is quality. But from my point of view - Mr expansion, I should have known better. Just think about your future needs before you buy one. As I say, for most of you, it will be fine, and would certainly recommend the IBM Aptiva to any of my (non-nerd) friends.