Jewish World Review Nov. 5, 2004 / 21 Mar-Cheshvan 5765


eMachines Model Offers Performance

By Mark Kellner

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | What can $599 get you in a personal computer? If it's the eMachines (stet) T3256, it would seem to be a fair amount: a 3.2 GHz AMD Athlon XP Processor, Microsoft Windows XP Home software, a 160GB hard drive, 512 Mbytes of DDR memory, and an 10/100 Integrated LAN port. The machine also includes a 48-speed CD-ROM drive, a DVD +/- RW drive as well as an 8-in-1 digital media manager, which reads Compact Flash memory cards, Microdrive hard drives, and various other digital media. And the T3256 includes an NVIDIA GeForce4(tm) MX integrated 64MB shared graphics chip and nForce(tm) 6-channel audio.


Translate all that tech-speak into English and you've got a rather powerful PC at what I'd consider a decent price. Particularly impressive is the hard drive size: 160 GB is a very, very healthy amount of storage space for any desktop computer, and is particularly welcome here. The RAM could be higher, but is more than I've seen on many "entry level" machines. Two optical drives are nice; having a DVD drive that'll write two of the main formats ("plus" and "minus" R) is nicer still.


The icing on this digital cake is the "digital media manager," which will appeal to users of digital cameras. Because you can take your memory card or Microdrive out of the camera and slip it into a built-in reader, transferring photos from camera to computer is about as foolproof as you can get. What's more, a version of Microsoft's "Picture It!" software is conveniently bundled with the computer.


In fact, there's a very nice compliment of software pre-loaded on the device, including Microsoft Works and Microsoft's "Encarta Plus" reference package, along with three months of AOL service and four months of Symantec Corp.'s Norton Anti-Virus software and updates. The basic, all-in-one Works program isn't the equal of Microsoft Office, but it should be sufficient for many. There's also more than enough hard disk space left for other applications.

Donate to JWR


Setup and operation of the computer was very easy in my testing. Interestingly, the computer uses the older "PS/2" style connectors for the mouse and keyboard, keeping the five USB ports (of which two are high speed) free for other purposes.


The computer is a good performer: it's fast enough for my needs, and the graphics are quite good. Installing, and using, a Happauge WinTV board, which turns the computer into a TV and video recorder, was a snap: like other machines, it's easy to open the case and install the board, something that wasn't always the case with more modestly priced machines. I noticed two available slots for such boards, which should be enough for many users. (Equally impressive, to me at least, was the "clean" appearance inside the computer, which denotes though and care in designing the unit.)


The $599 price tag, then, delivers a machine that's rather complete. I would prefer to see a couple of FireWire (or, IEEE 1394) ports on the front or back of the computer, since this particular connecting standard is a growing one. (Another $300 to $350, depending on where you shop, will get you a 15-inch LCD display from the firm.)


eMachines, which recently merged with Gateway and whose management is reshaping the older and larger firm's product line, is a company I've watched for a couple of years. I'm impressed with their philosophy, which suggests a dedication to customers and to making good computers. The T3256 machine offers a very good value for money, and I would have little trouble recommending it to someone looking for a good deal.

Find this column useful? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


JWR contributor Mark Kellner has reported on technology for industry newspapers and magazines since 1983, and has been the computer columnist for The Washington Times since 1991.Comment by clicking here.

Second thoughts
Adobe updates its easy photo fix
Recording radio
Myths die hard, even for ‘insiders’

Apple's iMac, better still

Free software worth something
A TV Board For Your PC
Raising the 'dead' and the dusty
Promise of VoIP not yet total
When ideas and policy collide at work
Why not take the easy way out?
One to buy, one to skip
In Israel, high tech goes on the road
Right out of the box, little Sony camera impresses
Useful little things
Epson printer does far more than just print
Does Gmail hit the spot?
Independence Day Thoughts on computing
Still more about online e-mail
Your vacation e-mail options
Mr. Reagan's Computing Legacy
Following your heart
Power Mac G5: A powerful tool
Opera: This browser sings
Motion's new tablet a step up
Fuji's S20PRO is for you — maybe
Last week's small revolution
More small wonders bring delight, challenge
Livin' large, livin' cordless
Small wonders: Gadgets good and bad
The right tool for the right job
Office 2004 for Mac is coming
Good Computer Info? It's In Print
'Office' suite good for price
The Delightful Deja Vu of the iPod Mini
Another check creation option
Blocking pop-up ads
Apple's super-cool iBOOK G4
MSN, the AOL alternative?
It's Konfabu-lous (and other Mac joys)
The world on my wrist, courtesy MSN
Treo 600 is great business tool
How to make good computer choices this year
The year behind, the one ahead
Last minute gifts, and other thoughts
Something special in the air, again
Veterans Admin plans computer revolution
More holiday gifts
Holiday Shopping Ideas (One of a Series)
Now, Mr. Gates Joins War on Spam
Stopping "Phishers" From Scamming You
Staying safe online
Franklin Covey Brings Order to Outlook
Upgrades: Should you do it?
Time to dump Ma Bell?
Palm T3 widens users' options
Electronic reading
Lessons from a hurricane
Can the PC and phone really merge?
The case of the curious keyboard
The season ahead
New keyboard adds flair to motion tablet
Upgrade path smoothes a bit
Dreamweaver, make me a web
Experiments in upgrading
A tale of two headsets
A declaration of Mac-dependence
Fuji's Fine FinePix S602Zoom
In search of good Mac apps
Little gadgets make computing easier
Adobe Acrobat 6.0 scores
Toshiba's Twisting Tablet PC
HP printer a steady worker
iTunes store, Mailblocks are cool online services
Palm's objects of D-Zire
Gateway's Tablet a winner
Outlook 2003 beta: A promising program
Tungsten's handy "Dubya"
Lexmark's winning all-in-one
Wireless ways
Long distance tech support does trick
Tablet Planner software a hit
Up and down the road with Joyride
Clarion's "AutoPC" is no "Joyride"
Apple's Keynote is PowerPoint for less
Moving adventures
Traveling companions
HP's Compaq Tablet PC a winner
The war on spam continues
Browser for Mac users has good start
New Adobe software organizes photos
Techno-war
The year the PC grew up
PC meets philately: one hit, one miss
Digital Nikon camera a winner, at a price
Honey, they shrunk the COMDEX
Last-minute ideas
Microsoft's Tablet PC has promise, problems
Upgrade with a plan
Palm's New Tungsten PDA Shows Its Mettle
Nobody asked me, but ...
Love, in Quicktime
T-Mobile's sidekick a good partner
Put on a (happy, unwrinkled, tanned, whatever) face
Apple software upgrade very useful
I came, I saw, iPod
How's that? A tech critic reflects, briefly
Satellite radio gets favorable reception
HP's desktop printing marve
Mac satisfaction --- and some really good software
Off to college ... with eMachines
Have PC, must travel
After Shot manages your digital camera images
X200: Mobile worker's fantasy
Beware: Consumers face a fee for printing own checks

© 2004 News World Communications, Inc. Reprinted with permission of The Washington Times. Visit the paper at http://www.washingtontimes.com