On the outside of the T6524, you'll also find lots to get excited about: a double-layer DVD burner, a 48X CD-ROM drive, and an 8-in-1 flash-card reader on the front panel, along with a full complement of ports around back. Although the eMachines T6524 Media Center PC provides seven USB 2.0 ports (with three up front), you get but one six-pin FireWire port (located on the back panel).
As its name implies, the eMachines T6524 Media Center PC uses(MCE), which is unusual for sub-$1,000 systems; however, eMachines doesn't include a TV tuner and a remote control, as you'd find in higher-end Media Center systems. The argument here is that MCE offers plenty of other functionality, such as photo management and DVD controls, that makes it worth its relatively small additional cost. You can always add the other elements later if you wish. Unfortunately, the T6524 ships with a pair of flimsy stereo speakers that sound as lightweight as they feel. The functional but unremarkable Internet keyboard and the three-button USB mouse share the black-and-silver design motif of the tower box, which adds to the T6524's aesthetically pleasing image. We grew to quickly hate the rollerball mouse; anything less than an optical mouse is unacceptable these days, even among budget PCs.
eMachines recently added a 17-inch LCD to its display lineup and included it with our T6524 evaluation unit. The two items are sold separately; adding the $270 (after $50 mail-in rebate) E17T4 LCD to the T6524 brings the total system price to a reasonable $869. The E17T4 isn't terribly bright and DVDs looked grainy on our tests, but overall it provides an acceptable image for the price.
eMachines includes theproductivity suite, accounting software, BigFix diagnostic software, and a 30-day subscription to antivirus software, among other workaday titles. You also get a standard one-year warranty and some bare-bones documentation. You can upgrade the warranty directly through the company--two years runs you $99, and a three-year warranty goes for $139. eMachines also throws in free phone support for the life of the warranty, although the call is not toll-free. Calls to tech support after the warranty expires cost $20 per incident. Support hours run from 5 a.m. to midnight PT, seven days a week. You can also e-mail tech support or try out the live chat, which is available daily from 3 a.m. to 12 midnight PT.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|BAPCo SysMark 2004 rating||SysMark 2004 Internet-content-creation rating||SysMark 2004 office-productivity rating|
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Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005; 2.4GHz AMD Athlon 64 3400+; ATI Radeon RS480 chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; integrated ATI Radeon Xpress 200 graphics chip using 128MB shared memory; Seagate ST320021A 200GB 7,200rpm ATA/100
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005; 2.2GHz AMD Athlon 64 3500+; ATI Radeon RS482 chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; integrated ATI Radeon Xpress 200 graphics chip using 128MB shared memory; WDC WD2000BB-22GUC0 200GB 7,200rpm ATA/100
HP Digital Entertainment Center z555
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005; 3.0GHz Intel P4 530; Intel 915G chipset; 512MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 128MB Nvidia GeForce 6600 (PCIe); Maxtor 6B250S0 250GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA
Windows XP Home SP2; 2.2GHz AMD Athlon 64 3500+; Nvidia nForce 4 chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 6200 Turbocache PCI-Express[TK]; Western Digital WD1600JD-98HBB0 160GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA
Sony VAIO VCG-RB44G
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005; 3.2GHz Intel P4 640; Intel 915G chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 128MB ATI Radeon X300 (PCIe); WDC WD2500JD-98HBB0 250GB, 7,200rpm Serial ATA