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As I've said in other reviews, I'm not easy on laptops. I tend to use them as other people use desktops - on 8 hours a day or more, lugged around everywhere, occasional cat sleeping on them. That being the case, I tend to spend at least £500 on them and expect them to last.
This one was the exception. My old laptop's fan was making alarming creaking noises when I spotted this on sale for just over £200. I was just about to embark on a year on university, money was short and I figured the warranty would last me a year and then we would see.
I was very surprised. Sure, it's not designed to be a gaming laptop, but for office programs it ran quite happily. Nor did it complain or slow down when I ran firefox with my usual 50 odd tabs open. Battery life ran to around two hours, just fine for my needs. The build quality felt just fine - cheap laptops cases can feel flimsy and plasticky (a horror if you travel a lot and are clumsy) but this had no problems. More to the point it lasted.. and lasted. Three years the little machine I bought as a "temporary" stopgap lasted me, with nothing breaking beyond repair in all that time. At the end of that three years, I still only upgraded because I wanted a gaming machine. The little E520 was quite suitable to be sold on, with only a new battery and charger needed to extend its life further (and frankly, I expect those to need changing after three years). Frankly, I am stunned by its reliability. I've had far more expensive machines die far sooner.
This Laptop is by far my most used gadget of the last two years.
I have spent around 40 hours a week using it for work, uni and general surfing for the last two years, and thus far it has only slowed slightly, it has a memory of 1GB, which is great for a laptop of this price.
I download a lot of music, movies and television programs, so much that I filled the relatively generous 160GB internal hard drive within a month or two. But if you don't download a ridiculous amount, 160GB is more than enough for the average user.
In my previous experience with laptops, downloading a lot makes a laptop run extremely slowly. This one seems to be able to manage to run a few more programs, than other laptops in this price bracket, at once before running slower.
This laptop runs on an Intel Celeron processor, which is an entry level processor designed for everyday tasks, general surfing, emails and word processing. It uses Windows Vista's Basic operating system.
One big plus point for me is that the keyboard is almost silent, there's nothing worse than a noisy keyboard! The keys are also kind to the fingers and are very responsive. After two years of hefty use there is absolutely no fading on the keys.
Only two complaints from me on this, firstly is the internal memory, but as i mentioned this isn't a problem if your a casual user/ don't download much. Secondly, the battery was at first great and lasted all day, but now i have to keep it plugged in throughout use.
All in all a great, affordable laptop, good for personal or family use.
I have had this laptop for over a year now and have downloaded loads on to it eg- msn, limewire etc and it hasn't slowed it down like many other laptops. It is easy to use with many great features including power selector where you can change the power supply for when its not plugged in so the battery lasts longer.
It comes with loads of games installed on to it including child friendly ones. It doesnt weigh to much so doesn't feel like your lugging around a bag of bricks. Has wifi installed and is fast connected to the internet. Takes a while to start up but thats not really a big problem.
I have used it daily in the past year or more and have had nothing go wrong with it. Have recommended to a friend who also loves it.
All round good buy if you are looking for a cheaper laptop without a cheaper look.
At the start of the year I had decided to get myself a laptop with the left over money from Christmas and my 21st (to be honest by "left over money" I mean all the money I'd gotten). The budget was around £300 and it had to be a windows operated system (none of the Linux stuff for me thank you) so off I went searching online and in shops. For those interested in buying an entry level laptop, the main store chains in the United Kingdom such as PC World, Comet and Currys aren't worth looking in, I was happy to spend £300 in any of them and all I seemed to be able to get for that were net books. As far as I'm concerned a net book is what a rich person buys their kid then tells them it's a laptop. The size of a net book and the overall functionality of one just couldn't handle with what I was wanting at the time, something to watch the American boxing on, a few forums and MSN. I have problems watching boxing on something the size of my hand so a laptop it was, as I wasn't a fan of sitting still either (so a Desktop wasn't considered).
After hours of searching I ended up on Tesco's website and saw the baby currently sat on my lap, for around £290 at the time. I had seen cheaper machines but they all seemed too limited, or we're very sub standard Acers (I have problems with Acers and their uncanny knack of falling apart), so when I saw the Emachines I had become really tempted and interested. There was 2 that we're quite similar, though the other one had a smaller hard drive, and thinking I had a lot of pictures and music I wanted at least 120GB, I also needed at least 1GB of RAM. So the the E520 was the choice I made in the end.
After making the order Tesco sent an Email saying it should arrive on the Friday morning between 7:30 and 10:00 like an idiot in first week of January I was up waiting... they didn't turn up, no sign of any delivery of sorts. They later sent an email saying it would be the Saturday, so again got up early, freezing my poor cotton socks off to wait...then a knock...it was here. After spending about 45 minutes letting it install all the pre-installed stuff (why didn't they do that before selling it?) then a further hour downloading all the things I use (Opera, VLC player, Sopcast, Open Office. I was then ready to go.
For the first few months life was blissful, it was fast, it was smooth it hasn't started to do any of the things my previous Acer had done 2 years previous. Although it wasn't the prettiest thing on the market (the touchpad/mouse area was actually really ugly and full of dimples), like it's owner it was doing the job. It was holding all the things I wanted it too and it was letting me watch the boxing no problems, perfectly doing what was needed. The rumour of 1GB ram not being enough to smoothly run Vista seemed to be a myth, the machine was holding up without seeming to struggle, it was running 2 browsers most the time as well as MSN and the Open Office Writer program. It had managed to hold all my music with space to spare (as in a lot of space to spare) and life was easy.
It was only as the year got on I started to notice some performance problems (that are genuinely bugging me more and more now). The laptop is having some real problems managing to run 2 browsers, often momentarily freezing as I try to switch tabs or windows. This is likely down to the RAM being run to it's maximum (I'm currently using well over 80% of the memory) which of course will cause slow down of the system as a whole. Though it may be down to the biggest problem I seem to be having the heat. The laptop has, in recent weeks been getting extremely hot on my lap or on the bed, often feeling like the fan is on it's last legs or full of dust (from the bed...) the noise the fan it's self has been making suggests it's not in ideal working condition any more and probably should be looked at by a professional.
So aside from the performance how is it? Well the screen is a nice decent size, I can't remember if it's the 15 or 17 inch monitor I have but it's more than acceptable, it means I can see the fighters when the boxing is on, but it also means the mean isn't too big. The clarity is clear and almost always incredibly sharp and easy to see. Though it does seem to have problems using outdoors in the sunshine where glare makes using it nigh on impossible and this can also seem to happen indoors at times.
It's also not the lightest of machines though saying that it's almost not a lead brick type of heavy of it's just more a solid weighty-ness that is probably down to the high build quality of the machine. The fact it has been dropped from waist height on to laminate flooring without any visible damage is sure fire proof of this (don't worry it was an accident). Though it needs to be noted the screen has had to be replaced after it was accidentally stood on, though what sort of idiot stands on a laptop I don't know. The keys have never felt like they we're ever breaking down and I do use them an awful lot so the fact no damage to them has been done is impressive.
Finally the sound which is sometimes a worry with laptops is good, it's not high performance speak set up, though it's solid and dependable. It will do the job of those wanting to listen to music, though for those who want their neighbours to hear their music, the in built speakers won't suit you. For those wanting to use the DVD drive to watch movies, then the speaker sound will satisfy you just perfectly.
As with most modern laptops it of course comes with a DVD drive that doubles as a CD/RW drive (though I've never had to use it as one), WiFi connectivity that is stretching to the router that's down 2 flights of stairs and through 2 walls despite having a decent (not amazing) connection. A perhaps disappointing number of USB ports (2) and no inbuilt memory card reader or blue tooth functions or webcam could well put some people off the machine. At the time I was on a budget so knew what I was getting.
As it has just been said, the machine was a budget purchase, the fact it's never been given a proper disk defrag in the past 9 months won't have helped the problems I'm starting to have in relation to performance. The fact is that it still gets from A to B and has always done so is a huge relief, though it has perhaps started to show that life with it isn't rosey. There is problems and you do get what you've paid for perhaps a little bit. Though it's solid, dependable and reliable it is likely to be upgraded properly next year as this gets passed down to my sister for her school work and teenage stuff allowing my wages to splooged on a significant improvement.
For those interested the Windows Experience Base Rate is 3.1, it socres the following:
4.5 Memory (RAM)
3.3 Gaming Graphics
5.4 Primary Hard Disk
The processor is an Intel 575 @ 2.00 Ghz, with 1GB RAM and the machine has 139GB of hard drive space currently un-partitioned. The battery life was quoted at 3 hours, though I've never managed to get that, I have had 2 hours out of it on a regular basis of steady and good use. At the time this was one of the deciding factors, feeling a 2 hours standard maximum life cycle just wasn't good enough. For those with the extra money they should look elsewhere, for those on a shoe string budget, who WILL look after their machine, this is perfect for you. Now ciao as I run a defrag.