eMachines EZ1601-01 Review

by Reads (11,130)

Overview

  • Pros

    • Less than nine pounds
    • Inexpensive
    • DVD burner

     

  • Cons

    • No HD flash
    • No wireless keyboard & mouse
    • No carrying handle

     


eMachines originally showed up as an independent computer manufacturer, showing off that you could build solid PCs without worrying too much about design and sell them very cheaply while still making a profit. Then Gateway bought them. Then Acer bought Gateway. Still, the eMachines brand has remained true to its core value of making cheap PCs. Today we look at the EZ1601-01, an affordable new all-in-one nettop.

Specifications

  • Processor: Intel Atom N270 @ 1.6GHz (512kB L2 cache)
  • Screen: 18.5″ 1366×768 LCD
  • Memory: 1GB DDR2
  • Hard drive: 160GB SATA
  • Optical drive: 8X DVD /-RW
  • Sound: Integrated HD audio with built-in stereo speakers
  • Video card: Intel GMA 950
  • Networking: Gigabit Ethernet
  • Wireless networking: 802.11b/g wireless
  • Operating system: Windows XP Home with SP3
  • Built-in memory card reader
  • Inputs: 5 USB2.0 ports (2 side, 3 back), 2 PS/2 inputs, headphone, microphone and line out audio jacks, Gigabit Ethernet, Brightness control button
  • Power supply:
  • Dimensions: 19.1 x 15 x 2.2 inches (WxHxD)
  • Warranty: One year limited parts and labor

The eMachines EZ1601-01 All-in-one desktop is available now in retail stores and selected online retailers for the manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $399.99.

Build and Quality
eMachines have the reputation, deservedly or not, of being cheap machines: not just in price but also in build quality. The cut in price has to come from somewhere, and all too often, manufacturers sacrifice the construction of the computer before shedding added features that might draw in more consumers. To that end, the EZ1601-01 isn’t constructed out of metal or super high-end components. The entire body is covered in glossy black plastic that looks attractive, though it’s definitely going to be a bit of a fingerprint magnet. It also picks up scratches pretty easily, even if you’re just buffing the finish back to shiny with a microfiber or terrycloth towel. The screen takes up most of the front of the machine — as it should — and is surrounding by a bezel around an inch or so thick. The screen itself is matte, meaning that you’ll be able to set this pretty much anywhere in your house without fear of sunlight or glare obfuscating the screen.

eMachines EZ1601-01eMachines EZ1601-01

The side legs are attached to the left and right, and run all the way up the sides of the computer. The bottom of each has a little rubber nub to prevent things from sliding around. A wide folding leg, similar to the ones we’ve seen on all-in-ones like the HP TouchSmart, provides a third point of stability to support the EZ1601-01. It works well, and the whole thing feels very sturdy despite its diminutive size and weight. The weight is definitely a point worth mentioning. Typically we take it for granted that desktops are heavy, bulky computers and don’t really concern ourselves with the weight of a machine. This all-in-one, however weighs less than nine pounds, which is pretty revolutionary. If we’re being honest, the EZ1601-01 is essentially a netbook with a much bigger screen, optical drive and no battery, but the light weight is still a point of great design. At the bottom of the display is a piece of chrome-colored trim, with a big eMachines lower-case ‘e’ in the middle. The logo is actually the power button, though it isn’t immediately obvious. It glows green when powered up. The top is covered in venting, but it’s only visible from the rear, not the front of the computer.

eMachines EZ1601-01eMachines EZ1601-01

On the back of the machine, above the wide third leg, is a huge eMachines logo. It’s hard to see, but that logo is actually a very nice sticker covering (we assume) the screws necessary to open the machine up. Typically we try and open up all-in-ones to take a look inside, but it would have been difficult to do without causing damage. At the bottom, you can see the grills on each side that cover the built-in stereo speakers. The speakers are pretty tinny, but perfectly sufficient in a normal environment; it’s just too bad that they face the back. Unless the machine is right next to a wall (thus reflecting the sound back at the user) it can be difficult to hear the EZ1601-01 if you’re laying back and watching a movie.

Inputs and Expansion
Given that this is a small nettop-based all-in-one desktop computer, chances are you wouldn’t expect much in the way expandability or port selection…and you’d mostly be right. There’s no way to expand the functionality of this machine without resorting to USB-based devices, which have gotten pretty advanced by this point. From the front of the machine, the right side contains an 8X DVD /-RW. It’s similar to the kind you’d see on a laptop, but tray-loading, not slot-loading. Since it’s recessed into the side of the machine, a tray-loading device works better, as you won’t need to crane your head around to try and fumble an optical disc into the drive.

The left-hand side holds most of the often-used ports, with two USB2.0 ports, headphone and microphone jacks and a multi-card reader that picks up SD, MMC MS and MS Pro cards. There’s also a couple of small square buttons at the top that control the brightness of the display. This is a fantastic addition, since I’ve used more than one all-in-one computer that seems to forget that sometimes users don’t want to be running the display at full brightness — especially in a dark room.

eMachines EZ1601-01

The rest of the of the ports are, as to be expected, on the back of the machine. On the left is the small Kensington lock slot. On the right are three more USB2.0 ports, the DC power jack, a Gigabit Ethernet port, analog line out audio and two PS/2 ports for use with the included PS/2 keyboard and mouse set. It’s actually a fair selection for such a small and low-priced machine, but we’d like to see a couple of more. Just about anyone who wants to use a different keyboard and mouse setup will go with a USB kit, which will take up one or two of those on the back. A couple of more USB ports would be nice.

Performance
As we mentioned earlier, this machine is essentially a netbook with a few more features, like the 8X DVD /-RW, 18.5-inch LCD and expanded port selection. As a result, it’s not going to win any performance awards. What it does do, it does well, however, like any nettop: browsing the web, typing up office documents, watching clips online, etc.

Note: I did the comparisons for performance with netbooks, since any recent conventional desktop we had in would be so far away as to be laughable.

wPrime processor comparison results (lower scores mean better performance):

Notebook / CPU wPrime 32M time
ASUS Eee PC 1008HA (Intel Atom N280 @ 1.66GHz) 116.030s
ASUS Eee PC 1005HA (Intel Atom N280 @ 1.66GHz) 116.421s
eMachines EZ1601-01 (Intel Atom N270 @ 1.6GHz) 122.281s
HP Mini 2140 with HD screen (Intel Atom N270 @ 1.60GHz) 123.281s
Samsung N110 (Intel Atom N270 @ 1.60GHz) 123.422s
Dell Latitude 2100 (Intel Atom @ 1.60GHz) 124.062s
Acer Aspire One (Intel Atom @ 1.60GHz) 125.812s

PCMark05 measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance):

Notebook PCMark05 Score
Toshiba mini NB205 (1.66GHz Intel Atom N280, Intel GMA 950) 1538 PCMarks
ASUS Eee PC 1000HE (1.66GHz Intel Atom N280, Intel GMA 950) 1535 PCMarks
Samsung N110 (1.6GHz Intel Atom N270, Intel GMA 950) 1511 PCMarks
eMachines EZ1601-01 (1.6GHz Intel Atom N270, Intel GMA 950) 1509 PCMarks
Samsung NC20 (1.30GHz VIA Nano ULV U2250, VIA Chrome9 HC3) 1441 PCMarks
HP Mini 2140 with HD screen (1.60GHz Intel Atom, Intel GMA 950) 1437 PCMarks
ASUS Eee PC T91 (1.33GHz Intel Atom, Intel GMA 950) 1292 PCMarks

HDTune results:

It did come as a bit of a surprise, however, at just how well the EZ1601-01 functioned as a media-centric device. I installed a recent Windows build of Boxee, the new free media center software that’s taking the internet by storm. It aggregates your local content and provides software to stream dozens of online media sources in one place, all while tying it together with a couple of aspects of social media, like friends and recommendations. While it occasionally lagged on effects like transitions, overall it worked very well. It a little bit of spit and polish to the default Windows XP Home operating system, which at this point is starting to feel pretty dated. Using Boxee, it even managed to play 720p content nicely, though it did drop a couple of frames in scenes with lots of motion.


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