The eMachines brand is a sub-division of Acer and offers a more affordable alternative to its consumer Aspire laptops. The G725-422G25Mi is a large-screen, entry-level media centre and is a good choice for those seeking a desktop replacement on a budget.

The 17.3-inch Super-TFT screen is well suited to entertainment use. Its widescreen aspect ratio is ideal for watching DVDs and its increased width also makes it easy to simultaneously work with multiple windows side by side.

Image quality is mixed. The panel is very bright, but this leads to a slightly washed out appearance. Colour and contrast are excellent, however, so photos and videos look great and the sharp 1600 x 900-pixel resolution provides detailed images.

Sturdy chassis

The plain black chassis uses sturdy plastics throughout and is tough enough for family use. The textured lid is resilient to scratches, although it builds static and quickly attracts dust.

Build quality is strong throughout, but this is partly due to the chassis being thick and bulky. Thanks to the large chassis, the keyboard is spacious.

emachines detail

All keys are tapered at the edges, making them comfortable and easy to work on. The board has a soft typing action, however, which creates a spongy feeling when typing. Irritatingly, the keys also rattle slightly.

Mobility is surprisingly strong despite the chassis weighing 2.8kg, the 234-minute battery life ample for life on the road. As long as you don't mind the weight, you can comfortably work for half a day at home or on the move before you'll need to recharge the battery.

Performance is fairly solid. The dual-core Intel Pentium processor provides power for home use and even basic photo editing. As with all laptops at this price, however, there is unfortunately not enough power for complex multi-tasking.

The 250GB hard drive provides ample storage and will hold thousands of photos, songs and videos. The dual-layer DVD rewriter lets you save files to CD and DVD and a 5-in-1 card reader is fitted at the front of the chassis for access to the most popular media card formats.

Unfortunately, this is the only laptop here not to feature an integrated camera or ExpressCard slot. Also, there are only two USB ports, although software for basic home office tasks and creating CDs and DVDs is included for new users.

While the power and battery life of the G725 are excellent, the flawed usability and features limit it slightly, so consider your needs to decide which factors are most important to you.

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