In the week Evesham, the UKs largest PC system integrator, fell into receivership it was rather ironic, but also encouraging to be contacted by a another UK based system integrator that we've not dealt with before. PC Specialist dropped us an email asking if we could review some of its kit. Of course, in this ever more global market where competition from huge multinationals is hotter than ever, we were happy to do our bit to help out a local business.
PC Specialist, then, is a Yorkshire based system integrator and notebook vendor that's been trading for four years now and has only 27 staff, so it's still a relative whipper snapper in the industry. However, it has built up a steady business based on simple competitively priced products built from good quality branded components. So simple, in fact, is its product range that at present there are no names for any of the systems on the website and you can basically specify any components in whatever combination you want. So, to give its customer service a good work out, we said just give us a system you'd recommend and we'll take a look.
The system we were given was blessed with a name and is known as the Apollo HD2600 though I couldn't for the life of me find any reference to Apollo on the website. It packs a dual core CPU, 2GB RAM, a large hard disk, and a decent graphics card and also comes with a full complement of peripherals including keyboard and mouse, speakers, and monitor so there should be everything you need to get going. Coming in at that key sub four-digit figure of £999, on paper it is a decent all-round PC that will suit mum, dad, young children and (virtual) gun-toting teenagers all equally well. However, as always, the devil is in the details so let's take a closer look.
The Trident case that houses the PC is a very generic midi-tower that's finished in classic black and silver apparel. As would be expected for a cheap case, it is made of thin sheet steel, which is covered in a tough paint finish, with a front fascia predominantly made from plastic. Where it differs, slightly from the norm is with the metal grill that covers the front of the fascia and surrounds the drive bays. While this does provide a bit of extra ventilation, there is no fan mounted behind it so there is little cooling benefit. PC Specialist offers a number of alternative cases for near enough the same price so if this one's not to your taste you have a few options. I can't say any of the designs are particularly stylish though.
A dual-layer DVD writer with LightScribe technology occupies one of the three 5.25in drive bays and a memory card reader sits in one of the two external 3.5in drive bays, so there's plenty of options for getting data onto and off the computer. LightScribe is a particularly neat technology that enables you to add custom labels to you CDs and DVDs. You just flip the disc over when it's done burning and the drive etches a label onto the disc surface just like a printer.