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Visit any newsagent and you will see ranks of computer magazines, each one with bold covers designed to attract your interest. It is a cut-throat business and to survive you need to occupy a niche or be demonstrably better than the rest.
PC Advisor meets this second criterion on the grounds of value for money. In an era when £4.99 appears to be the industries preferred price thus magazine retails at a cut price £2.99. This is the shop price for individual issues, paying by subscription for six months will reduce the price to under two pounds. If you don't renew your subscription they will offer you an even lower price. In addition a subsription gets you a free CD-ROM although it is questionable if you really want the OS Interactive Atlas or an Office clone.
So the price is right but what do you get for your money? Like most computer magazines you will get lots of ads. This is not necessarily a bad thing - you keep up to date with specifications and prices.
Each issue has a special such as upgrading your computer. A minimal technical knowledge is assumed for these articles. There is also a fairly substantial news section about which company is releasing which product. Personally this is of little interest to me but each to his own. There then follows a series of product reviews taking a detailed look at what's new. In addition there is that old magazine favourite - the top ten lists. This covers such items as budget PCs, monitors, printers and scanners and is updated on an issue by issue basis.
In depth business sections and workshops are also regulars. These are fairly complicated for the novice and of limited use for those who aren't limited companies. The reason many of us don't know these shortcuts and tricks is because we have attention spans akin to goldfish and there is no point in trying to overload our poor braincells.
Next is a useful problem solving section where readers are made to feel like complete plonkers when the reviewer solves their problem (which has kept them up to 3 a.m. every night for the last six weeks) in 18 words or less. Finally there is a small games/lifestyle section, readers letters and editorials.
The cover CD or DVD contains full products you never knew you needed (and often find out you don't). Every now and then you get something that is really usefull but most are gems like the AA Guide to European Campsites. (This is the cue for lots of comments about how this is the most useful CD you have ever used. Or maybe not.)
Overall it is a good magazine but not a great one. You get what you pay for in most cases and PC Advisor is no exception. I would recommend it for occasional purchase when you are taken by the cover CD.
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