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PCs with the personal touch

Build your dream PCThere’s something very satisfying about the creative process. No matter that the finished object isn’t as polished or slick as a similar one you could buy from a shop; the act of creation and lavishing attention on assembly is rewarding in itself.

So it is with the process of building your own PC. Puzzling over which parts will look and fit best together is part of a very personal process. You may not be able to buy the parts and build a PC for less than you could get a similarly specified system off the shelf, but you’ll be certain of it being well-built, and that it’s the exact setup that you want. And having built the PC in the first place and knowing precisely what it’s made of, you’ll probably feel more comfortable performing upgrades and tackling any troubleshooting issues that may arise.

Although PCs are complex items, they are also modular, with RAM modules and processors designed for use with specific motherboards. Choosing what goes with what is therefore not as daunting as it may sound. Our guide to choosing components and putting it all together should help - pick up a copy of PC Advisor to get started.

You don’t have to build an entire PC to end up with a personalised computing experience, though. Our other in-depth guide in the December issue looks at how to get the PC or mobile-computing setup you want using software. These days, a laptop, PC or smartphone is merely a foundation; it’s what you put on top that counts.

With SD and microSD cards being used to supplement onboard memory on tablet PCs and smartphones and plug-in flash memory able to supplement the RAM in your PC using ReadyBoost, even available memory and storage aren’t big issues. Applications can be read from media cards or U3-enabled USB memory keys, and ?can be installed on whichever host device you pick. A slew of tablet devices and a new generation of Android smartphones that can take advantage of this setup are launching now.

The personal touch is coming to the entertainment world, too. Slingbox – a concept that allows you to log into your home-entertainment setup from overseas – has just added Freeview and HD-streamlng to its mix. Elsewhere, we’re being offered the chance to watch what we want, when we want, and on almost any device, thanks to catch-up TV services such as BBC iPlayer, SeeSaw and YouView. These can be enjoyed online, on your PC, on your phone or on your PlayStation3 or Xbox. Dedicated boxes in the form of Google TV and Boxee’s Box are also on their way.

As with music streaming before it, TV and video on-demand are finally going mainstream. The big question is no longer “what can I watch?”, but “what shall I watch?” At last, the sweet agony of choice.

Pick up a copy of the December issue of PC Advisor, on sale today.

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