- Review Price: £899.00
eMachines is a brand associated with budget PCs, but it does also have a range of laptops. The M5116 is a very affordable desktop replacement laptop that can handle most applications barring 3D gaming. The M5116 is like a budget version of the HP nx7000. This is not saying that the M5116 is a bad laptop in any way, rather the contrary.
The build quality of the M5116 is excellent and half of the lid as well as the palm rests is coated in a rubber like material, which gives the laptop a nice tactile feel. The most eye catching part of the M5116 is the 15.4in widescreen display which does make it look a bit special. However, the resolution of 1,280 x 800 is well below the 1,400 x 1,050 standard that most laptops sport these days.
The M5116 isn’t the most powerful laptop out there, but it is good enough for every day tasks. The 2.4GHz Celeron processor is more than adequate for office applications, web browsing and email. The memory complement is very generous considering the price, with 512MB of DDR SDRAM supporting the CPU. The 40GB hard drive should also be plenty for the majority of users.
There is also a DVD/CD-RW combo drive that will write CD-Rs at 24-speed and CD-RWs at 10-speed, which is handy for backup purposes. The integrated Intel Extreme Graphics chipset is less extreme than the name would like you to believe and it won’t cope with any recent games. It also shares a portion of the system memory, which means that part of the 512MB of system memory is always allocated for graphics. Again, this is not a big deal as the M5116 is not intended for gamers.
Unusually, this being a budget laptop, eMachines has included 802.11g WiFi networking. This is a great addition as you can connect the M5116 wirelessly to the Internet at any number of WiFi hotspots. This is also handy if you use your laptop for work and need to connect to different networks in various offices.
Looking at the ports, starting at the left hand side, there is a single Type II PC Card slot, headphone and mic sockets as well as connectors for the integrated 56k V.90 modem and 10/100Mbit Ethernet. Around the back is the power connector, three USB 2.0 ports, a single four-pin FireWire connector as well as a D-SUB. Not an amazing array of ports, but you can’t expect everything from a budget notebook.
The keyboard is very good and there is enough travel in the keys for a comfortable typing action, even over extended periods. The only complaint is that the Ctrl key has been moved inwards to make space for the Fn key. The Fn or Function key gives access to extra features on the laptop such as enabling/disabling the built in WiFi networking or adjusting the brightness of the display. It is not uncommon for laptop manufacturer to place the Fn key in this position, but it means that if you’re used to a normal keyboard you’ll end up hitting it in stead of the Ctrl key. This is a particular problem for anyone who uses a lot of keyboard shortcuts.
The touchpad looks like something borrowed from an HP laptop as it has a separate scroll section that I have so far only come across on HP models. This is quite handy and much easier to use than special scroll zones and centre buttons seen on other laptops.
There is a set of quick launch buttons next to the power button, just above the keyboard that gives you instant access to your web browser, email, Windows search and Media Player. eMachines has also added play/pause, stop, forward and reverse functions to some of the function keys when they are pressed in conjunction with the Fn key. This allows you to control Windows Media Player from the keyboard easily.
In terms of software eMachines supplies a copy of Microsoft Works 7.0 and Microsoft Money 2003. Not a huge bundle, but still enough to get you going.
The battery life was better than expected at 3 hours and 27 minutes, which is more than acceptable. The M5116 also performed reasonably well in all the benchmarks, but due to the Celeron processor it will never be a performance machine. It does however score extra brownie points when it comes to cost, as it’s very affordable at £899 inc VAT. It might not be the cheapest laptop around, but the solid build quality and the reasonable feature set makes it a good choice for anyone that doesn’t want to spend a fortune on a laptop. Oh, did I mention that it has blue LEDs?
Dixons is currently selling the M5116 with a USB floppy drive, a carrying bag and a Lexmark printer bundle, still at £899 inc VAT, which makes it a fairly attractive package.
The eMachines M5116 is a well built laptop with enough grunt for everyday tasks and you don’t have to re-mortgage your house to be able to afford one.
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