Technology for Small Business

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Affordable Desktops for Budget-Based Buying

As technology is getting more and more advanced as well as manufacturing techniques becoming more and more automated, the computer industry is showing signs of modernization, if you will. The common is able to now buy desktop power with very little hard earned cash. Now adays, a useable and upgradeable computer is one 5th the price of a computer 10 years ago (and 10 times as powerful). In this premiere post we're going to discuss several models readily available as well as their manufacturer and what you get hidden within the sleek out hulls of these under $500 bad boys. We won't however get into hardware specifics as I'm saving that for my next post.

Emachines has been a small time player in the game for quite sometime but all that has recently changed. They started off kind of like Gateway only without the huge advertising campaign, under cutting the big guys, and offering the same specifications in hardware. They had an amazing ability to wow even a computer tech with their extremely low prices. Unfortunately, they were soon exposed as being poor in terms of quality control as well as just quality in general. They may have offered American phone support (at a time when other companies were exporting their own to India) and may have undercut the other guys by $100, but you risked have a buggy box that didn't seem to work right for no reason at all. But, this all changed after being acquired by Gateway (what a coincidence). The Q & A went up almost immediately with the new models hitting the shelves but their reputation took a little longer. This was around three years ago give or take. But now eMachines is up there with the big dogs and sales are soaring. They still have the incredible sales they run through local retailers, and are still evenly if not competively priced with the big three (HP/Compaq, Dell, and Gateway). Their hardware is also still the same: top of the line for an affordable price. If anyone is still complaining or leary of this company, its only because they're the type to hold onto grudges. Isn't that a scary movie of something? Anyways, cutting the chit-chat here's what you came to see.

Currently the eMachines T5048 is on top offering the Intel Pentium 4 processor weighing in at $399. Here are her specs:
  • Intel Pentium 4 Socket 524 3.06ghz with HT
  • 512mb DDR Ram
  • 2gb Maximum
  • 160gb IDE Harddrive
  • Double-layer DVD+/-RW Drive
  • 7in1 Card Reader
  • 6 Channel Premium Audio
  • ATI Radeon Xpress 200 IGP
  • PCI Express x16 Card Slot
  • Windows XP Media Center Edition
  • Windows Vista Ready
Now what does all this gibberish mean for you? It means that for $400 you can buy a system that will do everything you need it to in your small company or business from keep inventory and payroll, to being used as a front register POS system. And even if you wanted to play a little while you're at work ("All work and no play make Jack a dull boy...") so that you don't become a crazed axe wielding family killing maniac, this system comes with a previously mentioned 7in1 card reader for just about any digital camera memory card you can find.
Pros: Lot of hardware for your money, American phone support, incredible random sales
Cons: Still has random bugs in rare cases, Ugly design with no creativity
Overall I'd give the eMachines T series an 8/10.

HP/Compaq has been in the computer market in one form or another since the beginnings of true personal computing. Though the name has changed more than once, and there has been at least one buy out, this company(ies) still has its act together. Their products are seemingly in the majority of American homes. Don't believe me? Look in your closet. You'll probably find an old dusty and yellowed Packard Bell. In the case of HP/Compaq, Q & A hasn't been so big of a problem. The older HPs and Packard Bells are still found running with Windows(who-remembers-edition). Believe me...I've worked on a many of them. Compaq however at one point in its more independent past did have a few escapees with problems all their own. Now, granted this was in the mid to late 90's so who's counting. As of today, HP/Compaq makes great desktops with good reliability and a host of choices in hardware. More importantly they have a standard set of affordable models for the taking at just under $500. Let's get to the meat and bones shall we?

Currently Compaq has the Presario SR2020nx available for $419 in some retail establishments.

  • AMD Athlon 3500+ 2.2ghz
  • 512mb DDR2 Ram
  • 2gb Maximum
  • 160gb SATA 150 Harddrive
  • Lightscribe Double-layer DVD+/-RW Drive
  • 6 Channel Configurable Audio
  • nVidia GeForce 6150LE Video
  • Windows XP Media Center Edition
  • Windows Vista Ready
Sounds like a winner doesn't it? I own one very similar to this model and have had great luck with it.
Pros: Well known hardware configuration and compatibility, More advanced hardware, Sleeker look than the eMachines
Cons: No in-country phone support, No PCI-Express slot
Overall rating is 9/10.

Here is HP's sister model, the a1510n:
  • AMD Athlon 64bit 3800+ 2.4ghz
  • 1gb DDR Ram
  • 4gb Maximum
  • 200gb SATA 150 Harddrive
  • 8 Channel Hi-definition Supported Sound
  • nVidia GeForce 6150LE Video
  • Lightscribe Double-layer DVD+/-RW Drive
  • PCI Express x16 Expansion
  • 9in1 Media Card Reader
  • Microsoft XP Media Center Edition
  • Windows Vista Ready
HP tends to model their own named brand a little better than the Compaq side of things. I personal would choose them over the Compaq counterpart only because of the added bonus' within the case, as well as the sexy looks on the outside of the case (growl).
Pros: Has everything I could possibly want for business and home use, and its sexy too!!
Cons: Breaks the $500 mark by about $50
Overall rating 10/10.

Our third and final company to investigate is Acer. This at one time more widely known name was very successful during the era of Windows 95. You remember Windows 95 don't you? Ya I really don't either. They seemingly drifted into oblivion for years and are now back with a powerful will. Hitting the market at just over $300, their desktops are clean in appearance, decent under the hood, and one of the only companies still offering XP Pro as standard on any of their products.

Here we'll look at the current AcerPower S285:
  • Intel Pentium 4 Socket 524 3.06ghz with HT
  • 512mb DDR Ram
  • 2gb Maximum
  • 80gb SATA 150 Harddrive
  • SiS 661FX Video
  • 5.1 Channel AC'97 Audio
  • DVD+/-RW Drive
  • 1yr Limited Warranty On-site Repair
  • Windows XP Professional
Good ratings, excellent price, decent up-to-date hardware, how can I pass it up?
Pros: Only company to offer free on-site repair even if it is 'limited', XP Professional pre-installed, very clean, very sleek, and very unique look.
Cons: Lesser harddrive than competitors.
Overall rating gets a 9/10

It maybe asked why we didn't include other well known brands such as Dell, Systemax, Gateway, etc. To be quite honest, I don't really feel like those companies are worthy of being on this blog. I wouldn't sell them to you, and I personally wouldn't buy them. Dell tends to use bait and swap tactics with their pricing, Gateway (even though eMachines has good Q&A) can be trusted for quality in my opinion, and Systemax is not all that cheap like they pretend to be. So there, take that.
Well, that's pretty much it for this first post on our Small Business blog. I hope this information and my opinions have helped you in one way or another and I also hope you'll check in with us every week to see our new blog entries on relevant and make-sensical topics to help you on the road to growing your business in this highly technological world. And yes 'make-sensical' is a word.

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