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Get a new eMachines laptop for $349.99

As well-equipped as machines costing hundreds more, the eMachines eME625-5192 has everything most mainstream users need. The sole shortcoming: Vista Home Basic.

Hard to believe you can buy a new, full-featured notebook for just $349.99.

What's better than the $299 Dell Inspiron 15n laptop I posted a couple weeks ago? If you can scrounge up an extra 50 bucks, you'll get more bang from the $349.99 eMachines eME625-5192.

For openers, this is a new lappie, not a refurb. That's a rare find for less than $400, let alone for less than $350. No rebates, either. Shipping will run you just $1.99.

It's pretty well stocked, too, including a 1.6GHz Athlon 64 TF-20 processor, 3GB of RAM, a 250GB hard drive, and a DVD burner. It has a 15.6-inch screen, a 5-in-1 memory card reader, and a travel weight of about 6 pounds.

It also includes a six-cell battery; the Dell had a four-cell. The Dell also had less RAM, a smaller hard drive, and Linux as its operating system. eMachines bundles Vista Home Basic--blech, right?

My recommendation: Install the free Windows 7 Release Candidate and enjoy that until next March. Then you can decide if you want to buy the OS outright, switch to Linux, go back to Vista Home Basic, or whatever.

If this was a refurb, I'd be calling it a mighty sweet deal. Given that it's new and comes with a full, one-year warranty, forget deal: it's a steal.