As a member of BuildBrighton, I've been taking part in some exciting competitions run by Farnell/element14. I've been a long-time customer of Farnell and bought most of my equipment through them (long gone are the days when you could pop into a local Maplin store and speak with someone knowledgeable about components and get help with your homebrew project!). They've always offered excellent service, a really comprehensive catalogue of components, and next day delivery even if your order doesn't go in until late into the evening!
I know a lot of people use RS Components and Rapid and even I still scour eBay for job-lot bargains, but mostly, when it comes to sourcing electronics components, there's only one website on my Google Chrome regularly visited list - and it's Farnell. In short, I think Farnell are great!
And now there's even more reason to rave about Farnell - because their recently re-branded element14 department has been running a number of projects to encourage interaction with the developer community. Not only did they organise the Worldwide HackerSpace Challenge, but they also gave away free cash (yes, real, genuine cash to spend anywhere, not just on their webstore) to provide the community maker groups with a budget to develop their own ideas!
As well as this, Farnell are actively encouraging developers to submit their ideas and helping by providing equipment and development kits: all completely free of charge! There are no caveats or conditions - if one of their guys likes what you're doing, look out for an email asking what you'd like to play with from their massive catalogue of components and look out for some freebies in the post!
We got an mBed development kit completely free. In fact we were offered anything from the Farnell products catalogue to try out and review, but we headed straight for the NXP storefront (http://uk.farnell.com/nxp) to check out the latest ARM7 development kits - although PICs are great, we're looking to step up to something bigger and beefier soon, and the NXP mBed system looks like a nice easy introduction to ARM7.
We're kicking a few ideas around to see what we can do with it, but already have a steer on what we can use it for. More details will be posted here as they're finalised.....