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It's a very rare thing to find a large widescreen machine at such a low price, but that's exactly what the eMachines G420 offers.
While not suited for those after portability, this is a great option if you're looking for a large, comfortable desktop replacement system.
The 17.3-inch panel impressed us immensely. The 1440 x 900-pixel resolution allows for a very detailed picture, and colour reproduction is also decent. The sheer size of the screen allows you to easily juggle numerous windows at the same time – ideal if you multi-task applications – while at the same time providing an immersive experience to view anything from word documents to your holiday snaps and DVDs.
The shiny Super- TFT screen coating produces distracting reflections, but only in very bright conditions and you'll be fine if you plan to primarily use the machine indoors.
eMachines has employed a functional design and the matt-black chassis and lid are attractive enough. The materials used are very durable and provide decent protection for the components inside, which is ideal if young children will be using the laptop.
The keyboard is particularly comfortable to use. The typing action is crisp and concise, while the size of the laptop means the keys are comfortably spaced apart.
The keys are also sharply tapered, making them hard to miss-hit when typing at speed. As with the Asus X5DC-SX025V, a dedicated numeric keypad is also included.
The AMD 2.1GHz Sempron SL-42 processor produced the second best performance benchmark results in this test, despite the laptop having the least amount of memory here. Running standard office applications won't be a problem, but the lack of memory means that multi-tasking programs isn't this laptop's forte – unlike the Lenovo G550.
In contrast, the Nvidia GeForce 9100M graphics card is fairly powerful and will allow you to carry out basic photo editing tasks. Inevitably for this low price, all but the most basic video editing and gaming are out of bounds, however.
The 160GB hard drive provides average storage space for your digital content, meaning those with a wealth of data might want to consider the Asus X5DC-SX025V instead.
Gigabit Ethernet is included for fast wired networking and there's also four USB ports allowing you to connect more peripherals (such as an external mouse or smartphone) to the machine.
The G420 is a very comfortable desktop replacement machine which ticks a lot of boxes. Portability doesn't happen to be one of them, but it impresses as a usable machine for all the family.
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