If Freud were born 100 years later than he was, he might have changed his famous cigar quote to "sometimes a box is just a box." Few people would buy an eMachine over an Alienware computer on performance alone. But if your computing time is mainly consumed with using e-mail and Office with just a splash of gaming and movie editing, a cheap box may be the way to go.
The eMachines T3418, one of four new low-end eMachines just launched by Gateway, has pretty good hardware for only costing around $400. The PC includes a multiformat double-layer DVD-R/RW drive that can store up to 8.4GB of data using pricey double-layer DVD media. The T3418 also has an AMD Sempron 3400+ processor, a 160GB 7200RPM hard drive, a 9-in-1 digital media reader, five USB 2.0 ports and 512MB of DDR memory. The memory is upgradeable up to 2GB if you decide that intensive processing like making home movies is in your future.
The big bummer is that the box ships with Windows XP Home Edition instead of something juicer like XP Pro. The standard software bundle includes Microsoft Money as well as other standard Microsoft productivity software and trialware.