Emachines EM355 is a decent mini notebook for those who are on a budget and want a portable notebook to do web surfing. I bought it in January (2011) and have been using it for doing my primary tasks. Here is its review after 8 months of extreme usage.
Build quality – If you think that cheap notebooks break easily, then this eMachine notebook will prove you wrong. I have carried it everywhere with me and have used it very roughly. Everything, from hinge to its construction, is rock solid and Acer / Emachines is not paying me one dollar to say it. Also, it is extremely easy to carry around. Here is a comparison picture of EM355 with the iPad where you can see that iPad is actually a bit wider than the mini notebook.
Whole chassis has matte finish which does not catches fingerprints easily. It came with freeDOS installed, but you can easily install any windows operating system as Acer has provided windows 7 and XP drivers on the CD. You can also download them from support.acer.com (emachines’ support site). I installed XP on it along with Ubuntu. If you are a Linux user, you will love the fact that everything, including Wi-Fi and hot keys were working out of the box in Linux Mint as-well-as in Ubuntu.
Display – The display is very bright and I was able to see everything on the screen even in the direct sunlight which is weird since it is glossy, not matte. Colors and saturation are decent for a netbook that costs just 220 dollars.
Keyboard, Touchpad – Keyboard is similar to the ones you find on other Acer and Emachines notebooks. The keyboard uses a chic let style design and it may take around 30 minutes before you start typing at your normal speed as the gap between the keys is very less compared to chic let keyboards found on the Sony Vaio and Apple notebooks. The touchpad does not supports multi touch gestures but that does bother me one bit since it is not as big as the one found on Macbook Air or Pro. It works fine The mouse buttons register clicks without involvement of too much effort and make a definite click sound when pressed.
Performance – While the Atom n455 is not recommend for doing any sort of heavy duty tasks, it is good enough to watch YouTube clips (up to 480p) and web browsing. I had no problems in running Office 2010 and Photoshop CS3 on it. If you are a college student or a business user, you will love it as Atom N455 is an extremely low voltage CPU with a TDP of mere 4.5 watts which is chiefly responsible for its amazing 6 hour + battery life. My Emachines Em355 (e355) came with a 6 cell battery. So make sure you check the battery capacity before shelling out money.
It consumes very little power in sleep mode and wakes up in mere 5 seconds which makes it ideal for people on the move – the people who hate to wait. For some extra power boost, I recommend upgrading the RAM to 2GB which is the maximum supported by the chipset. You can upgrade the hard disk and RAM by unscrewing the screws located on the back of the notebook.
Ports – It has two USB 2.0 ports, both located on the left side which will be hated by those who like using wired computer peripherals like wired mouse. I use Logitech M325 wireless mouse (mobilityupdate.com) so the absence of an extra USB port on the right side is not a problem for me. You also get a LAN port, VGA port and an SD card slot.
Verdict – An excellent, great bang for a buck notebook that I recommend to light users. Wonderful build quality.
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