It seems that while the high-end malls are struggling to attract shoppers, and having to rely on special offers to get people to buy anything, the low-end malls are still doing a roaring trade. On a recent visit to the Golden Arcade in Shamshuipo, the mall, as always, was packed with a mixture of tourists and school kids. Normally, I avoid Shamshuipo, as there is little there to interest the serious PC user. In fact, most of the stores seem to sell either illegal VCDs or video game cartridges, with a few component shops thrown in. However, this time I did find a couple of good bookstores, one of which was offering a 70 per cent discount on a thorough guide to Office 97. The other store proved the Golden Arcade is not just for games players by stocking a publication called A practical guide to configuring Cisco routers. Meanwhile, 298 Computer Zone in Hennessy Road - a road which has more than its share of illegal VCD stores - also had plenty of shoppers. Indeed, one shopkeeper said business was so good that they were expanding into a second store. Unlike the Golden Arcade, 298 always can be relied on to turn up a few interesting new products. For instance, on a recent visit I spotted the Plustek OpticPro 9636T scanner. This colour scanner has a built in 35-millimetre transparency adapter and comes with Chinese OCR (optical character recognition) software - all for $1,380. Alternatively, anyone looking for a PC will find plenty of shops ready to put together a custom-made model. Perhaps the best such deal is being offered by Paradise Computer System, on the upper ground floor of 298. For just $9,960, the store will put together a PC based on a 400 MHz Pentium II processor. One of the shopkeepers in 298 told me the mall was doing better than the newly opened Wanchai Computer Centre, despite the latter's better position, because 298 was older and better known. However, the still relatively clean Wanchai Computer Centre, above the Wan Chai MTR station, is filling up and doing a good job of attracting customers. Among the products on offer there was the CompuStar Business Card Reader. This handy little device will scan a card, identify important information such as name and address, and store it in your favourite database - imagine how much space you could save not having your desk littered with other people's name cards. It costs $1,850. Interestingly, many of the smaller stores in the high-end malls are copying the tactics of stores in the lower-end malls, with fewer big tickets items and more gadgets. One such example was the Mitsubishi M3611, which I spotted in Windsor House. This is a pen-based PC, with a 75 MHz 486 processor, which sells for $6,800. Unfortunately, in the demonstration the hand-writing recognition did not seem to be up to much, so novelty value may be all this computer is good for.