(updated 1/26/2017)

The SMART PC*...

...is assembled with care, using name-brand components and fully-licensed name-brand software. Each one is custom-built for its intended user, at the time an order is placed. The PC described here is quite capable of performing all tasks that a home user may ask of it - today, and in the foreseeable future. As an outright purchase with the available peripheral options, this PC would make avery nice home, or small business, PC.

Note : the Smart PC price includes a great deal of personalization that will be important to some. Please read the section below entitled "Personalization" to get a truer sense of what makes a SmartPC different from its competitors.

The Smart PC changes as technology advances. When new features in the marketplace appear, the Smart PC incorporates them. This might mean changes in case style or the internal components. The target is to provide a computer with what most users demand at an economical price point.

$650

Microsoft Windows 10 , 64-bit operating system

includes Windows installation DVD, hardware driver DVD, and the hardware combination below...
vertical positioning or horizontal positioning

Inwin BP671 case, 3.9" x 10.4" x 12.2"

air venting on three surfaces, two case cooling fans
black steel, glossy black plastic face with blue accents

ASRock H81M-ITX micro-ITX motherboard with conductive polymer capacitors

Intel H81 chipset, Intel® HD Graphics on board
SVGA, DVI-D and HDMI video out, optical SPDIF

optional video upgrade using PCI Express 3.0 x 16 expansion slot

PS/2 legacy keyboard port, Gigabit RJ45 ethernet

7.1 CH HD Audio with Content Protection (Realtek ALC892 Audio Codec)

6 - USB 2.0 ports, 4 rear, 2 front; 2 - USB 3.0 ports, rear

Intel i3-41700 CPU with heat sink and cooling fan, and thermal management
optional upgrades on both the CPU and the memory
4GB RAM, Kingston DDR3 1600 Mhz

6Gb/s SATA3 Kingston 120GB SSD hard drive

optional 6 Gb/s SATA3 Kingston 240GB SSD hard drive

3Gb/s SATA2 for optical drive, 3Gb/s E-SATA2 port on rear

LG 24X DVD-RW optical drive for CDs and DVDs

optional Blu-Ray burner for CDs, DVDs and Blu-Ray disks
3 Gb/s SATA 2 data transfer rate


Comments...

Some may feel that more RAM will be needed, but Windows utilizes only about 33% of the 4GB available here when it is fully operational, and further demand when multitasking many common programs seldom takes the usage above 66%. Having any more RAM is really not warranted.

This machine has an SSD (solid state) hard drive in it. These drives have no moving parts, they run cool, and they are very fast. These drives make a huge difference in the overall performance of any computer. In the Passmark test mentioned above, it is common to see hard drive performance increases of 5 to 10 times over the traditional hard drives they are replacing.

The hard drive may seem undersized to some, but, in fact, a complete and fully updated modern installation occupies under 30GB of hard drive space. 120GB storage leaves 90GB for data - far more than most users will ever have. Should additional storage space be needed, a traditional SATA drive can be connected to the rear E-SATA port. New external USB 3.0 devices connected at the rear will be similarly quick. These would allow for an increase of whatever capacity as desired.

Of course, the key in protecting your data is diversity and duplication. The hard drive is just one location. An external drive is a second. A flash drive a third. Optical media (CDs, DVDs, Blu-Ray) a fourth. Of these, optical media is the method of choice for personal security and longevity.

Online storage is a fifth option. Microsoft's Skydrive and other online storage options might satisfy concerned users. Skydrive also handles synchronization of data when more than one storage location is utilized.

The DVD burner in this configuration can read and write on optical media except Blu-Ray. An upgrade to a Blu-Ray burner is possible, although not common. This upgrade can be performed easily and economically at a later time, if desired.

This price is for the computer itself - it does not include a keyboard, mouse, monitor, webcam, microphone or speakers.


General Options...

Options can improve some aspects of this assemblage, and can be discussed. There is a wide selection of hardware available and what you see here can simply be used as a guideline for a comparable or more suitable combination.

Three things do come to mind, though - video cards, memory and Blu-Ray. If anything might need upgrading (for video editing perhaps) it would likely be one of these. An outright custom build based on the pricing shown here is certainly possible, too.


Optional mini-ITX motherboards...

An alternative to the i3 build described above is a build with a mini-ITX motherboard at its core.

Mini-ITX motherboards do have their advantages. They come with a decent, albeit slower, processor, built onto the board. The processor may or may not require a fan, just a heat sink, and can therefore be very quiet. It draws less power than a typical processor. The board itself is quite small - roughly 5" x 5" - meaning that cases with very small footprints can contain one. If the optical drive is optional or can be external, the case can be smaller again.

The disadvantages are more or less the opposite - processing speed, fewer connection ports, and limited expansion ports. If Windows 7 is to be installed, 64-bit versions may not be applicable.

The benchmark number for the i3 described above is approximately 1500 on the Passmark scale. The mini-ITX motherboards run slower than this, although the performance feel is satisfactory for typical home use. (Compare these numbers to a Core2Duo-based computer that would run around 700 on the same scale and an elderly P4 that would run at perhaps 350.)

Just $495 with optional

Intel J1800 mini-ITX motherboard

with same 120GB SSD, 4GB RAM, DVD burner

With the stepdown to a mini-ITX motherboard, there are some savings to be had. In a computer case of similar calibre, with the same hard drive and optical drive, with a 4GB SODIMM, and Windows 10 64-bit, this configuration is about $150 less than the i3 described above. Leaving off the optical drive drops the price by another $20 or so.


Software...

Operating system...

The defacto standard at the moment is Windows 10 Home 64-bit.

PCN fully installs the operating system and advantageously provides the original installation media (CDs or DVDs) with each system it sells, unlike other PC manufacturers that only provide a copy in a hidden partition on the hard drive.

If the hard drive of a PC becomes too small, or becomes cluttered with unneeded programs, or becomes chronically infected with viruses, or fails due to age or some other reason, users having the original installation media in their possession have the option to do a fresh re-install on the original, or on a new hard drive, or with another hardware configuration altogether. Without this media, users must go through a recovery process that may not be possible if the hard drive problem is not the reason for the reinstall.

Updates...

PCN installs all available updates at the time of delivery for every installed program, unlike some "boxed" systems that may have been in transit or on the shelf for months and have software that is no longer current or relevant.

Regarding OS versions...

PCN regards Windows 7 as the best verion of Windows to date. PCN sets up Windows 10 computers as if they were Windows 7. The desktop will be completely familiar to experienced users, with the Windows 10 environment and its features only a click away for those who prefer it or wish to learn it.


Personalization...

Each SMART PC is setup with the purchaser's individual interests in mind. This facilitates migration from a previous computer and makes future maintenance upgrades easier.

For those with existing data files, Internet access and email accounts, assistance is offered and included for the migration process. Internet Explorer "favourites", Address Book and Contact entries, email and data files can be safely copied and moved onto the SMART PC prior to delivery.

In addition, each Smart PC has several popular third-party utilites and links installed, to make burning CDs and DVDs, downloading music, Internet radio, music- and image editing, game playing, and other computing activities safer and more enjoyable.

Visit this page to see many more details about these programs and other features.

If the buyer has an existing license and installation media for software like Microsoft Office or Photoshop, these programs can be installed. If an office suite is needed, a suitable version of Micorsoft Office can be purchased and installed, or a version of OpenOffice can be downloaded and installed.

PCN has a list of popular and useful links prepared to spark a user into exploring the Internet. PCN also has a number of tech articles to assist users with computing tasks and to resolve errors. (Although presently far behind,) PCN periodically offers news, tips and opinions in an email newsletter form. These can be subscribed to by providing an email address. A list of downloadable programs is also available - programs used to outfit new computers and to enhance them. Some of these programs may be hard to find at their original locations, or may no longer be available elsewhere, hence their inclusion in this list.

Automatic updating is setup to allow the user to choose, whenever possible, the time an update is performed. (Many programs attempt self-updating and change their methods from time to time, so it can be very hard to take control of these programs.) The main programs requiring updates include Windows itself, Adobe's Reader, Flash Player and Shockwave player, Java's script engine and player, and whatever anti-virus program is in use. Printers and other devices may attempt updates also. As best as can be predicted and managed, these programs will be set to ask the user for permission prior to installing updates.

Destruction of a data drive being discarded is a service offered for free when a Smart PC is purchased. Disposal of any other hardware or software no longer needed is also included. Items brought along for assessment that will have value or may be needed in the future are identified. Recommendations will be made if a hard drive no longer needed can be used as a data- or system backup. Anything disposed of is handled in a "green" manner.


Instruction...

In a one hour session, all SMART PCs are shown fully setup and working in a preparation area, prior to the purchaser taking possession. Internet access is checked and email account settings are tested. Purchasers are shown how to get up and running quickly with all the various other third-party programs installed. Windows is also customized at this time to suit the purchaser's knowledge of Windows and their personal user preferences. Advice is given on safe browsing and data protection. All reasonable questions will be answered, with tutoring offered at a later time if the scope of a question is too large and the answer lengthy.

After the PC arrives home, the buyer can visit this page anytime to have their memory refreshed about many of the programs and features discussed in the tutorial.


Options, Accessories and Supplies...

While the SMART PC is originally quoted with certain hardware and software specifications, individual items are sometimes optional or are selectable by the purchaser. The processor speed, amount of memory, hard drive size, optical drive type and case style can all be altered within reason.

Optional monitors, keyboards, mice, printers, scanners, data drives, game controllers, flash drives, memory cards and other devices can be added, at our recommendation or your specification.

Often, the most economical time to take care of things like power bars with surge protection, blank media, other software and other accessories is at the time of an original purchase. PCN can recommend and provide these items also, as you prefer.


Warranty and Service...

SMART PC hardware components come with the full warranty offered by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM), and with a lengthy warranty on the labour required to install the hardware provided by Concord North Ltd. Typically, this means...

Typically, computer components fail during either assembly or testing, or they simply outlast their usefulness. Outside of software problems, you should expect, and we intend that you receive, a trouble-free, fully-satisfactory machine. Should you require service, a phone call begins the process. If your problem cannot be solved over the phone, you need only "carry-in" the machine for an inspection. If the problem cannot be fixed right away, arrangements will be made to see that you get up and running again as quickly as possible. While PCN offers and expects to facilitate and provide assistance with the direct warranty process, in the event that a warranty solution with an OEM means that costs will be incurred (i.e. packaging, shipping, etc.), these costs must be borne by the SMART PC purchaser.


Notes...

* - SMART PC is the trademark of PC's built by Products of Concord North Ltd.


© Products of Concord North Ltd.

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