This guidance note is intended to assist branches
in purchasing the right equipment.
NOTE: Advice on computer purchase goes out of date very quickly
- contact one of the contacts (right) for updated information.
When purchasing a new computer system a minimum
specification is set out below.
330 MHz Pentium II (or III) processor
64Mb EDO RAM
2Mb video memory
512K internal cache
2 ISA slots
2 serial, 1 parallel and separate mouse port
4Gb IDE hard disk drive
3.5" 1.44Mb floppy disk drive
32X CD Rom drive
16 bit Sound card and speakers
15" Colour SVGA Monitor
Keyboard and mouse
Benchmark price £800 (inc. VAT)(Beware quoted
computer prices often exclude VAT)
If your budget runs to a higher specification
it is always a good idea to invest in more memory. 128Mb RAM
and a larger hard disk drive.
An essential extra is a printer. An inkjet printer
such as the HP Deskjet 710C will print in black and white and
colour at about 5 pages per minute. Benchmark price £130 inc.
This should meet the needs of most branches, although
a laser printer such as the HP Laserjet 1100A will produce sharper
copy for publication and be more economical for heavier use.
Benchmark price £335 inc. VAT.
Other non essential but useful peripherals include
a scanner and/or digital camera for Pictures. Get best dpi for
A tape or zip drive back up system is useful for
for moving large files or when that enthusiastic branch officer
accidentally wipes your hard drive!
Branches should of course ensure that the PC is
properly sited on appropriate furniture in accordance with current
health and safety guidance.
(See UNISON guide 'Display Screen Equipment Regulations
Computer hardware requires software (also called
'programmes' or 'applications') to operate.
There are other integrated packages such as Lotus
Smartsuite or Corel Wordperfect.
The absolute essential is an operating system
which will almost always come pre-installed. Most machines will
come with Windows 98. There are alternatives - but don't bother.
Other necessary software include word processing,
spreadsheet, e-mail and database applications. The best solution
is to buy an integrated package such as Microsoft Office 2000
(small business edition) at around £380. The Pro version (£495)
includes Access (database) and Powerpoint (presentation). The
Premium version (£585) adds FrontPage which is useful if the
branch is planning to produce its own webpages.
Whilst they are perfectly good applications you
have to recognise that Micrsoft has such a dominant market position
that you will be forever converting files.
You might be able to pick up the earlier Office
97 version of these applications much cheaper and these will
meet the needs of most branches for the next few years.
The word processor in these applications is perfectly
adequate for newsletters but the branch publicity officer may
require advanced Desktop Publishing functions.
Internet access can be achieved using UNISON's
own free internet access. This gives unlimited free e.mail addresses,
web space and 24 hour technical support. Phone 0870 9009090
for the easy to install CD.
There are many suppliers who can supply to the
recommended specification. The machine must be IBM PC Compatible
i.e. not an Apple Mac.
However, remember the maxim "let the buyer beware".
If the branch does not have an experienced advisor you may feel
more comfortable going to a reputable supplier with outlets
in Scotland such as PC WORLD, TIME, TINY etc. As usual shop
around for the best price.
Also don't forget to check the warranty and technical
support. How long and at what price does the extended warranty
cover. Does the technical support visit you or do you need to
return the PC.
DATA PROTECTION ACT
UNISON is registered under the Data Protection
Act. There is no need for branches to register separately provided
the information held on their computers is only used for UNISON
Branches must advise the General Secretary
that they are using computer equipment for branch administration
purposes and the nature of the information they hold.
All branch office equipment should of course be
This guidance has of course been written in
the strange language beloved of the computer world! If you require
a translation or any further guidance please contact: Dave Watson
or Chris Bartter