Maker of original "disposable computer", the $399 eTower266, which debuted in November, 1998, just in time for the Christmas rush. The company has produced a new line of computers every quarter since then, always remaining within the world's top 10 PC vendors.

While the hardware may not be state-of-the-art, the eMachine computers are a great deal for computer newbies or people (like myself) who want a second computer but aren't ready to spend a lot. Early on, the biggest drawback of the low-end models is that there are only 2 PCI slots and 1 ISA slot, and no AGP; but the newer models all provide an AGP slot (so you can actually use the system for gaming), a CD burner, a NIC, a modem, and at least 3 PCI slots and 6 USB ports.

The bottom line is that for someone who just wants a computer for web browsing, there's almost no reason to pay more than $400. It remains to be seen whether eMachines can make a profit and survive long-term, but for now it's a hard deal to beat.

European update

Dixons Group now have a partnership with eMachines in Europe, to manufacture and supply PCs through their UK and European operations. These machines are also tested and approved by Dixons themselves through their own product evaluation department at PC ServiceCall. Because of this, quality control is considerably better, as Dixons have a say in the design features and build components.

The outcome of this is that even the tech support people at PC ServiceCall feel good about these machines, as most problems are easily resolved over the phone. The few issues there are can be put down to user error or software problems, and hardware problems are certainly no higher than with say, Compaq. I can state this with some confidence, as I work as a trainer for PCSC, and obviously, train people using their machines.

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