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New EduQuest computers power multimedia.

In another sign of its ongoing commitment to K-12 education, IBM EduQuest offers two new multimedia computers: the EduQuest Thirty-five and Fifty-five. Both incorporate hardware components that facilitate integration of multimedia content into K-12 teaching and learning.

* By Special Request

Expressly tailored for primary and secondary school classrooms and labs, the new EduQuest computers are designed around the unique features requested by practicing educators.

They boast built-in, high-resolution monitors, a small desktop footprint and a single plug to the wall. There are no extra cables, no extra components. Extremely quiet operation means teachers and students don't need to shout over the din of hard drives and fans.

The mouse can't be disconnected from the unit without a special tool; its trackball is also nonremovable as are the keycaps on keyboards. The unit itself is rugged and bolts to a desktop or table.

For collaborative learning, the front audio panel includes two headphone jacks. There's also a microphone jack for audio-in, a volume control and a built-in speaker. A variety of keyboards are offered, plus there are other features to assist the physically challenged.

Flexible and upgradeable, the Thirty-five and Fifty-five have two full-sized ISA expansion slots that are compatible with myriad cards, two EduQuest expansion slots for audio and networking, and three storage device bays.

Of note is that several standard networking options--Token Ring and Ethernet, both with remote program load--don't use an ISA slot; their special cards fit into the EduQuest expansion slot. Thus the ISA slots may be retained for other needs and desires.

* Multimedia Features

What distinguishes these new EduQuest machines are their multimedia capabilities and options.

A double-speed CD-ROM drive can be built right into either model. This is the platform for educational multimedia and fast becoming a "must" in the classroom. Literally hundreds of new titles are announced every year.

Audio is another option, provided by IBM's own MWave Digital Signal Processor (DSP). Placed on a special card that does not need an ISA slot, the audio subsystem supports CD-quality stereo sound, voice recognition and MIDI. It is compatible with most SoundBlaster applications and more than 40 other audio formats.

Teamed with Thirty-five and Fifty-five models' graphics and processor performance, these multimedia options facilitate more engaging and innovative instruction in K-12 classrooms.

* Nuts & Bolts: Thirty-five

Positioned as an entrylevel system, the EduQuest Thirty-five is designed as a student workstation. It can be utilized as a stand-alone unit or networked in a variety of LAN options.

The Thirty-five is powered by an IBM 486SLC2 processor at speeds of 50 MHz with a cache of 16K. Benchmarks indicate an improved performance over the EduQuest Thirty of about 30%. Its standard RAM is 4MB, which is upgradeable to 16MB.

Multimedia courseware places high demands on video performance. The Thirty-five delivers by way of a graphics subsystem that supports Super VGA at 640 x 480 resolution at 256 colors, non-interlaced, and 512K of dedicated video RAM (VRAM).

Standard hard disk options include IDE drives of 133MB, 256MB or 342MB capacity. In addition, SCSI drives of 540MB and 1GB are available using an optional SCSI adapter. IBM PC DOS 6.3 and Microsoft Windows 3.1 are pre-loaded on all systems configured with hard drives.

* Nuts & Bolts: Fifty-five

A teacher/administrator (or advanced student) workstation, the EduQuest Fifty-five represents the high end of the IBM family of computers. As such, this model is offered in a variety of tailored configurations.

For example, six different Intel processors--two 486SX and four 486DX chipsets--are available, including the 100 MHz, DX4. Further, each processor is also upgradeable to future Intel Pentium Overdrive processors. Cache ranges from 8K to 256K. Standard RAM is 4MB, but can be expanded up to 64MB for advanced applications.

The video subsystem on a Fifty-five is also geared to the high end. It features integrated local bus video and 1MB of VRAM standard, which may be upped to 2MB. SVGA graphics is displayed in up to 16 million colors at 640 x 480 resolution on a .28mm dot pitch built-in monitor. Higher resolutions--800 x 600 or 1024 x 768--will display 64,000 colors. And its monitor is Energy Star compliant. Finally, a video-output port provides connection to an external monitor.

IDE hard disks offered for the unit are 170MB, 360MB or 540MB. For more capacity, the system also supports attachment of a second IDE hard file.

A variety of Plug and Play adapters fit into the Fifty-five. And, like the Thirty-five, this model can arrive pre-configured with IBM's MWave audio subsystem; a 2X CD-ROM drive; any mix of floppy, tape backup or other storage devices; be network-ready; and more.

* Service and Support

Both new EduQuest models include a full one-year warranty backed by onsite service to schools. Further, educational institutions who choose to perform their own post-warranty maintenance may purchase selected parts from the IBM National Parts Center at the same prices IBM charges its authorized servicers and third-party maintainers.

A design note: the EduQuest Thirty-five and Fifty-five boast a slide-out chassis drawer, which provides quick and simple access to internal components and greatly eases the process of customizing or upgrading a machine.

* Courseware-tested

Of special interest to teachers is the fact these new models have been designed to run, and tested with, EduQuest's wide variety of software for K-12 schools. The Thirty-five, for example, suits student stations in IBM's Teaching and Learning with Computers (TLC) environment; while the Fifty-five fits in as the teacher's station.

EduQuest courseware includes the critically acclaimed Writing to Read, now in a new 2000 edition, Writing to Write, Math and More, Nature of Science and all of IBM's recent multimedia-based offerings (including their new Visit series; see sidebar). The machines are also well suited for higher grade levels and titles such as the Illuminated Books and Manuscripts and Columbus: Discovery and Beyond. Naturally, myriad other CD-ROM and software-based multimedia titles and authoring packages from educational publishers will also run with ease on the powerful new machines.

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Youngsters Can "Visit" the Woods or Seashore Via SW

EduQuest courseware suited to the Thirty-five and Fifty-five multimedia computers is their new Nature of Science' Visit series.

Through the Woods, for first graders and At the Seashore, for second graders, are core curricula programs. Designed in collaboration with Children's Television Workshop, these CD-ROM-based programs simulate field trips to the woods and the seashore. Extensive use of full-screen, full-motion video (DVI) plus photos and animation drive the simulation.

The curriculum focuses on the processes of science, covering important concepts and themes in science, the environment and nature.

The DVI component runs on the teacher's workstation and is made for multiple-student use. Courseware--comprising software that organizes detailed data using photos, animation, narration and a word processor--runs on student stations linked to a file server.

Students get full control over where they go on their "visit." They can also capture pictures of animals or plants and enlarge them for a closer look and additional instruction.

Hands-on, kinetic activities are integrated as well, using "props" such as live hermit crabs or goldfish. Workbooks, activity cards and a 230-page teacher guide round out Visit programs. Network, singleuse and classroom packages are offered.

Correlation to the developing National Science Standards and Assessment is deliberate, thus state frameworks, Project 2061 and the NSTA's Scope and Sequence are also easily correlated.

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Copyright 1994 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:includes related article on EduQuest courseware; IBM EduQuest 35 and 55
Publication:T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)
Article Type:Product Announcement
Date:Oct 1, 1994
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