computer/emachinet6524.jpgWe all know that you can spend $2,000 or $3,000 on a computer that will perform every trick in the book. Can a $599 computer be worthwhile? I took a look at an EMachine T5026 to find out.

This eMachine had some nice features for the price. First it was a full Intel 519 Pentium 4 Processor operating at 3.06 GHz. Many cheaper machines substitute a slower Intel Celeron chip, so I was happy to see a full-blown Pentium 4 in this computer. Also the computer has a 1MB LS cache and 533 Mhz Front Side Bus. Suffice to say that the cache and front side bus will help eliminate bottlenecks found in some low-end machines.

Other features are also quite substantive. The T5026 has a large 160GB hard drive, a writable CD and a writable DVD not often found in value-line PCs. The integrated 8-in-1 Digital Media Reader will allow you to slide the memory cards from your digital camera, cell phone, or PDA directly into the PC for easy access to pictures and data.

The T5062 also has all the usual amenities including a 56K fax/modem, Ethernet, a serial port, parallel port, and PS/2 keyboard port. Again, impressive for a low-end computer was the inclusion of 6-channel (5.1) audio, three Firewire ports and seven USB ports. These ports are spread between the front and back of the machine for easy access.

eMachine didn’t skimp on the software either. The software package includes Windows XP Home Edition, Microsoft Works 8.0 which has a full version of Microsoft Word, plus database and spreadsheet. It also includes Picture IT! Premuim 9.0 for photo editing and Encarta an Online encyclopedia.  CyberLink Power DVD and Nero6 Suite  are included for working with CDs and DVDs. The unusual RealPlayer, Microsoft Media Player 9, and Adobe Acrobat Reader are also included.

In everyday testing, the eMachine handles all the normal e-mail, word processing, and picture tasks quite well. In fact, it seemed quite zippy. Amazingly, the sound quality of the included speakers is good for everyday computer tasks and even for listening to audio CDs. Unless you are a serious music connoisseur, you will be able to stick with the included speakers which is unusual for an economy PC.

So where did they skimp? First, there is no floppy drive… no great loss…. Macs haven’t had floppies for years and with USB hard drives, the floppy is pretty much useless anyway. The integrated video will not be adequate for high-end gaming, but it is fine for everyday tasks. One caveat, if you decide later that you want to improve the video quality you will have a difficult time since this eMachine lacks the AGP lot necessary for most high-end video cards.

The eMachines PC comes with a multimedia keyboard and a two-button wheel mouse. It comes without a monitor so you will either have to add that cost to the bottom line, or use an old one. Also, please note, following the current trend,  the included Symantec Norton AntiVirus 2005 and McAfee Anti-Spyware 2005 are good for only 90 and 30-days respectively.

The T5062 offers good performance for the price. The bundled software will give the average user a good start. It is a substantial system for everyday computing.

NOTE: The T5062 has recently been replaced by the similarly-priced, but better equipped T6420.

Manufacturer:  eMachine

Price:  $599