NEC Direct – Direction SM-466V review

budget, capable desktop system
Photo of NEC Direct – Direction SM-466V
£510 exc. VAT

NEC Direct is just what it says, the direct sales arm of the giant NEC corporation, owner of NEC Packard Bell, among others. This neat little midi tower system shows what you can do as a hardware supplier, if you use your buying power sensibly and work within your budget.

The neat case contains a 40-speed CD-ROM drive and a standard floppy and these are partnered on the inside by a 9.5GB hard drive. This isn’t massive by today’s standards, but will stand you in good stead if you don’t install too many games.

The 433MHz Celeron processor, oddly a clock-rate lower than the 466 in the machine’s name, is backed up by 64MB of memory, which can be increased to a maximum of 256MB. The machine’s system board is limited to three PCI expansion slots and a single ISA one, though most of the things you’d want expansion for are already in place.

There’s a Yamaha XG sound chip, for instance, which drives a decent pair of Labtec speakers, generating acceptable sound quality given the price of the machine. A 56kbps modem is also included and the machine’s graphics controller is integrated into Intel’s 810 chipset, making a neat, if not high performance, solution.

In fact the performance of the SM-466V isn’t bad and the video system is capable of running games as well as serious applications. The 15-inch NEC monitor is well above average in its class, as you might expect from a pioneer of PC monitors. The keyboard is reasonably comfortable to use, and is coupled with a good Logitech Pilot Plus mouse.

The most surprising part of this machine is its software bundle. Perhaps due to NEC Packard Bell’s buying power, NEC Direct has been able to put together a spectacular bundle of Microsoft software for a machine under £600. It starts with Works 95 and adds Word 2000 to beef up the word processor. It then includes Encarta 99, Money 99 and three non-Microsoft applications, ViaVoice, AND Route 99 and CorelDRAW 7. OK, very little of this is completely up to the minute, but tied together, the overall bundle caters for most of the things you might want to do with a home PC.

And that’s where the package is aimed, really. As a first buy for the family or as a PC for a home office, there’s just about everything here you could want. Recommended for its respectable specification and excellent software.

Company: NEC Direct

Contact: 0870 010 6321


Verdict
NEC Direct has produced a machine which doesn't shout, but has much it could shout about. Among these things are a good monitor, fair performance and an excellent software bundle. If funds are tight or this is your first PC, you will find the SM-466V has a lot to offer for comparatively little outlay.