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eMachines EL1352-10e Product Reviews

High Technology Product Reviews | Trends and News | eMachines EL1352-10e Product Reviews
If you're looking to spend $500 period, then the eMachines EL1352-10e ($499.99), a Costco desktop, is a complete desktop PC that includes a 20-inch widescreen monitor in a single box. It's more capable than other nettops in its price range, plus it's still more compact than most of the mini-towers out there. The EL1352 is a good example of a simple PC that can serve many functions for a decent price.

Specifications
Type
Value
Processor Family
AMD Athlon II
RAM
3 GB
Storage Capacity (as Tested)
300 GB
Graphics Card
nVidia GeForce 6150 SE
Primary Optical Drive
Dual-Layer DVD+/-RW
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium
Design
The EL1352 is a compact, small form factor (SFF) desktop PC with enough space inside for a full-sized DVD burner and internal hard drive. Contrast this with the eMachines Mini-e ER1402-05 ($299.99 list, 4 stars), which is a nettop you can hide behind an HDTV. The Mini-e and nettops like it are so compact because it uses a notebook-class drive and lacks an optical drive. In any case, the EL1352 is essentially a glossy black refresh of the white SFF chassis I saw last year in the eMachines EL1300G-01w ($298 list, 3 stars).

There's space for a half-height PCIe x16 graphics card and a PCIe x1 card in the system, but that's about it. The two DIMM slots are full, so you will have to pop the 1GB stick out and replace it with a 2GB stick to max the system out at 4GB. Unless you're a multitasking maniac that never closes a program window, you should be ok with the stock 3GB on this basic system. Outside, there's a whopping 9 USB 2.0 ports to hook up all those iPods, cameras, and smartphones. The system is VGA-only, but since it comes with a monitor, that's not a bad thing.

Features
The included eMachines E202H 20-inch widescreen monitor is basic, but it gets the job done. The monitor's native resolution is 1,600 by 900 with a 16:9 aspect ratio. This means it can easily display 720p HD content, but it can't display 1080p HD content without scaling down. The monitor was sufficiently fast to display smooth 720p HD trailers from YouTube, but when I tried playing back 1080p, there was quite a bit of jerkiness. That's no doubt due to the system's single-core processor and ancient GeForce 6150SE graphics.

Other features of the system include built-in speakers in the monitor, which are sufficient for Web videos and basic sounds. However, you will probably want to hook up a pair of headphones if you're listening to music: The speakers are a little tinny. I do like that eMachines decided to install Windows 7 Home Premium rather than Windows 7 Starter or XP. So, you will have all the benefits of Windows 7 and not a hobbled or older OS, respectively. The EL1352 has a 320GB hard drive (7,200rpm), which is pretty good: You can store thousands of MP3s, photos, and videos on the hard drive.

Like other retail systems from Acer/eMachines/Gateway, there's a bunch of trialware and bloatware on the system. Pre-loading software and shortcuts to sites help keep the price of the system low, but the programs can be annoying nonetheless. eMachines still uses Welcome Center (a remnant of Windows Vista) to display ads from eBay, Skype, eMachines Game Zone (Wild Tangent), Netflix, and the 6-month trial for Norton Internet Security. There are also shortcuts on the desktop and Start menu for most of this bloatware. Systems like the Editors' Choice winning Asus Essentio CM1630-05 ($479.99 list, 4 stars) do a better job handling bloatware: The system points to where the software is still available for download, but it's not pre-loaded.

The EL1352-10e bundle is available exclusively through Costco, and as a result the system has a two-year warranty on the whole system. This is a lot better than buying a similar (but differently configured) EL1352 desktop from another store, since most others only offer a one-year warranty. Costco also has one of the most accommodating return policies in the business (90 days instead of the usual 14).

Performance
The EL1352-10e won't win any speed awards, which is to be expected at this price point. However, the system is faster than compact nettops. The E EL1352-10e took 8 minutes 36 seconds to finish our HandBrake video encoding test and 10:12 to finish the Photoshop CS5 test. Compact nettops like the Lenovo IdeaCentre Q150 ($399 direct, 4 stars) (12:31 Handbrake, 23:38 CS5) and Giada N20 (stay tune for our review) (12:19 Handbrake, 23:29 CS5) take up to twice as long. Dual-core systems like the Asus CM1630-05 and HP Pavilion p6607c-b ($799.99 list. 3 stars) take a lot less time to finish the tests. Call the EL1352-10e a happy medium between the compact nettops and the full-sized tower PCs. The EL1352-10e comes with older Nvidia GeForce 6150SE graphics, so it couldn't run our 3D tests and games.

Compared with nettops, the EL1352-10e is quite capable in a package that is larger than the Lenovo Q150 or Giada N20. The optical drive and internal expansion alone makes the EL1352 more useful, unless all you're interested in is a simple PC that can be hidden. If you discount the $159 for the monitor, the desktop itself comes to about $340, which is well within the entry-level category. Add the monitor and you have a full system in box you can take home and hook up in minutes. The EL1352 doesn't quite knock the Asus Essentio CM1630-05 off of its perch as our sub-$500 entry-level Editors' Choice because the EL1352-10e is burdened with bloatware and an older integrated graphics chipset. That said, it's still a good choice for those who want to spend $500 without having to worry about getting a separate monitor.

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