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eMachines joins the all-in-one desktop crowd

eMachines announces its EZ1601 all-in-one PC.

Thanks to a $399.99 price tag, the new eMachines EZ1601, announced Tuesday, might be hard for bargain-hunting shoppers to resist. We can't help but notice that the Intel Atom CPU is in its spec sheet, which takes us back to the Asus Eee Top ET1602, the last real budget all-in-one to cross our path.

eMachines' new EZ1601-01 budget all-in-one. eMachines

In eMachines' favor, the EX1601 actually comes with an optical drive--an 8x dual-layer DVD burner, to be exact. At $475 or so (down from $699 at launch), the Asus all-in-one is more expensive, and instead of an optical drive it comes with a haphazardly implemented touch-screen interface. Otherwise, the specs between the two are almost identical: Windows XP Home, 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 CPU, 18.5-inch display, 160GB hard drive, 1GB 667MHz DDR2 RAM, Wi-Fi.

For our money, we'd much rather have fully realized DVD burner technology than only semi-useful touch input in a budget all-in-one. We do see the appeal of a low-cost, kiosk-style PC in the kitchen, which is what systems like this promise, and the ability to simply walk up and mash the system with your finger to browse around has merit. But the ability to watch movies, burn discs, and install disc-based programs is more widely useful.

As long as we're required to choose between touch or a DVD burner in a low-cost all-in-one, we like the sound of this new eMachines. We have a system on the way, so stay tuned for a full review in the coming weeks.