Home Access Suppliers 2010 – recommended Home Access suppliers

When the Home Access Programme was first announced by Becta, in January 2010, there were six suppliers on the scheme, where parents could spend their grant cards. And Becta have recently announced an additional four suppliers. Which means that your parents have ten different suppliers they can turn to.

However, it’s unlikely that a parent who doesn’t have a computer is going to want to shop around ten different websites or call ten call centres, or visit ten shops, in order to decide which computer is best. Especially as many of the suppliers focus on gigabytes and gigahertz, rather than talking in language that first-time computer buyers will understand.

I’ve spent some time trawling through the different Home Access suppliers’ websites, and come up with my recommendation of the best Home Access Suppliers. Although there are ten suppliers, each offering between one and four base models, there are only seven different computers – although some offer a different software specification, or purchasable options.

What makes the Home Access Suppliers different?

Before I give you my recommendations, let me explain some of the reasons I’ve chosen them, which are important to parents choosing a first home computer for their children, to support their school work. I’ve given a great big green tick to specific suppliers for the following reasons:

  • See it in store, and take it away: Only Comet offer this, but I think they’ve hit the nail on the head. Walk into a store, look at your new computer, and then take it home straight away. Although some other suppliers have high-street partners where you can see one of their computers, you still have to order and wait for it to be delivered. So I’ve given Comet a bonus mark for having made the right decision. And I’ve also unilaterally given XMA half a bonus point, because you can see their devices in T-Mobile stores nationally, even if you can’t take it with you.

  • Windows: Although they all come with Windows, I’ve noticed that some suppliers are offering computers with Windows XP still. I don’t think that’s a good idea for a brand new computer, so I’ve put them lower down the list.

  • Microsoft Office: Of course I’m going to believe that it’s right to have a copy of Microsoft Office on the computer. It’s what students use in the classroom, and it’s what their parents will use in the workplace. And it is what they’ll need for homework.
    And more importantly, if it’s the same computer, at the same price, and one supplier includes a copy of Microsoft Office, and the other doesn’t – which one would you choose?

  • Home Learning Package: We’ve put together a suite of additional applications, and even programming tools, for students. Some suppliers are pre-installing it free. So that’s a good thing. Why wouldn’t your parents want more free software?

  • Microsoft Security Essentials: All of the Home Access computers include anti-virus protection. But if they’ve chosen the Security Essentials, then it means that the parents won’t ever have to fork out for an anti-virus subscription in the future. Whereas some of the others will cost money in 3 years time.

The Home Access computer choices

  • Laptops: Across ten suppliers, there are just 4 models of laptop – Acer Extensa 5235, Toshiba L450, Samsung R519 or Lenovo G530.

  • Netbooks: There’s only one netbook on offer, offered by nine of the ten suppliers, which is the Samsung N130. But four of the suppliers only supply it with Windows XP, whereas the rest supply it with Windows 7 – at the same price. So if you’re going to choose a netbook, make sure you get a Windows 7 one!

  • Desktops: There are just two desktops on offer currently – a Zoostorm tower, and an MSI AP1900 All-In-One. Personally, I think a laptop is a better choice, as families have more choice about where to put/use it, and students can also use it at school in the future.

So based on everything above, here’s my recommended Home Access suppliers list

  1. imageComet – because you can go into one of their 200 stores, take your computer away with you, and they’ve put all of the things above on it – Windows 7, Microsoft Office etc etc. They’re the only supplier offering the Acer laptop too (although that’s the only one they offer).

    • imageXMA – all of their models include Windows 7 and Office, Microsoft Security Essentials and the Home Learning Package. And you can go to a T-Mobile shop to see it in the high street (but unfortunately, have to then wait for delivery). The good news is that you’ve got a choice of 2 Samsungs and a Toshiba (and they do put Windows 7 on the Samsung netbook).

    • NS Optimum, Misco  and DA Computers – They have all the right software on their computers, including Windows 7, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Security Essentials and the Home Learning Package. And they all offer a desktop option too. Unfortunately NS Optimum & Misco are phone/web only, but DA do have a couple of stores in Leicester and Rugby.

      • Stone Computers – all of their models include Microsoft Office, and the bigger laptops include Windows 7 too. One small snag is that their Samsung N130 netbook has Windows XP, so I’m rating them a little lower Sad

      • Although it may seem unfair lumping everybody else together, these are the suppliers who have Windows XP on some computers, and don’t include Microsoft Office within the grant-value computer. Or all the other free software mentioned above. These are Centerprise, BLi, Micro-P and Positive IT.

      Note that this is done by trawling through suppliers’ Home Access websites - I’ll try and keep it up to date as I see/hear of changes. It’s probably not foolproof or completely error-free, but the only way to not make a mistake would be to not write this blog post!

      imageQuickly find all the other Home Access Programme posts on this blog

      Comments (20)

      1. Matt Dovey says:

        Thanks a lot Ray – just had a parent asking me what I would recommend and how they can go about getting hold of a system, so this has been a very useful reference indeed. Cheers!

      2. mum of 3 says:

        u answered every question i had thanks for taking the time to do this mate x

      3. mum of 2 says:

        Hi I been looking into the offers as you only get one shot.

        Ive decided to go with Positive IT as the samsung comes with 2gb memory and its the laptop not the note book, it now comes with micro soft office and is windows 7 🙂

        Here is a bit of tech info

        here is the ratings of the laptops in makes:-

        the 2gb Samsung R519 is the fastest available,

        then the Toshiba L450 has a a better processor than the 1gb samnsung R519.

        THE ACCER comes last as the processer is worse than these two models so will run slower plus it does not have a webcam leke the other models.

        check wed sites before you buy as some offer an extra years internet, Positive IT offer an extra gb of ram within the grant price plus Microsoft office, and others like micro offer a free printer but check as there is expiry on these offers. and BLI offer free educational software in the form of games but (some have stated these are not what they expected). Some offer free landbased internet it you already have a BT phone.

        Its up to you what you get in the end but right now POSITIVE IT has the best offer within the grant at the moment.

        and do check the internet coverage as some offer different internet companies.

        hope this helps.

      4. kim says:

        Hi Ray I so wish i read this blog before i spent hours doing what you did, but many thanks because you came up with the exsact same top 3 as me and i now feel much happier to go ahead with my order so thanks again. xx

      5. Simon says:

        Many Many Thanks….Great info just what I needed, very helpful indeed, Regards.

      6. sarah says:

        Thanks mum of 2, brilliant techno info. xx

      7. tania says:

        brilliant info,now ill go ahead and order my laptop,thank you 🙂

      8. lou - mum of 3 says:

        Thanks for all your great reasearch made my job alot easier as it gets very mind boggling.

        After much deliberation have decided to go with NS Optimum as they offer a 2GB Samsung which is the fastest offered.  

        Altho was tempted to go for the 1GB toshiba as better processor than 1GB Samsung and XMA are offering a free printer while stocks last.

        Looked into the Lexmark x2670 printer offered and can pick one up for about £33 so thought the 2GB laptop better value.

        Good luck everyone.

      9. sara says:

        HI RAY


      10. azarharus says:

        i would be careful in buying from NS Optimum as they reimage their samsung r519 laptop which means what usually is supposed to come with the samsung originally is removed from hard drive and they create their own image they also remove the samsung recovery solution which is what helps your laptop to restore without losing your files and removed samsung update, and ofcourse to top it up no recovery disks so aftyer your 1 yr gaurantee you cant restore if neede its then a dud machine, tech support are not really supportive, my sound was not working after 1 week the manager there says i sholudnt mess around with the settings, well they dont have a clue buy the looks of it.Buy from BLI they dont mess with the original laptop software or image.

      11. azarharus says:

        also no games that windows has on samsung r519 from NS Optimum looks as if they removed them too

      12. PAT OWEN says:


      13. vinoka says:

        the thre giga is at stone homeaccess.stonecomputers.com .

        I think i will gor for positive it.

      14. Suef23 says:

        thank you so much for this website. Been looking for hours through the many many packages and websites and couldnt really decide, this has really helped and im so glad i found it. Going to go with the Positive IT i think, offers the best laptop at the minute but bit worried as nobody has mentioned how their after support is…..

        Thanks again xxx

      15. xxxxx says:

        hi, where is the  MSI AP1900 All-In-One available?

      16. Gina says:

        Comet don't appear to have any Toshibas left is ACER just as good

      17. danni says:

        Ive just got a grant of 400quid, but I no nothing about laptops please could some1 help me

      18. n davison says:

        thinking of getting laptop from positive it any problems with it before I go ahead as i know nothing about computers and its for my 11 yr old any more views on after sales service

      19. Sarge says:

        The Toshiba although a slab of ugliness, does have a benefit, it has a HDMI connection, so you can watch your movies in high resolution on your tv!

      20. mum of one says:

        Thanks mum of 2 for your reference. on Samsung R519


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