capsule review

EMachines M6810

At a Glance
  • eMachines M6809

  • eMachines M6810

EMachines M6810
Artwork: Rick Rizner, John Goddard

Note: This notebook originally had the model name M6809, but the vendor changed it to M6810 after our product review appeared.

If you've been hankering for a wide-screen portable but you're not willing to part with a month's take-home pay, think EMachines. The new top-of-the-line EMachines M6810 represents a fine-tuning of the discontinued M6807 that we reviewed in May, with a slightly larger hard drive and a slightly more powerful processor.

In our tests, a 2-GHz Athlon 64 3200+ chip helped the M6810 earn a PC WorldBench 4 score of 130, two points higher than the 1.8-GHz Athlon 64 3000+-equipped M6807's score of 128. The new model's 80GB hard drive gives you 20GB more storage for the same price that the M6807 was introduced at, $1650. The M6810's battery life is about the same as that of the M6807, too, at 3 hours.

But the rubber meets the road with this 7.7-pound notebook's impressive array of features for the price. To augment a 15.4-inch screen (with a native resolution of 1280 by 800), the M6810 supplies 802.11g Wi-Fi, a fixed-in-place rewritable DVD burner that handles dual formats, four USB 2.0 ports, and a six-in-one reader for Secure Digital, MultiMediaCard, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, CompactFlash, and Microdrive cards. The steady keyboard with an extra-wide touchpad features status lights galore (you can disable them if you find them too distracting), shortcut buttons, and volume controls. The only serious disappointment continues to be meager stereo sound weakly emitted from front-mounted stereo speakers.

The M6810 inherits a few other, smaller problems from the M6807: a microphone port inconveniently located on the back, a sticky battery release, and a memory-slot design that may stymie active upgraders. You get 256MB of RAM built in, which leaves only one accessible RAM slot in a bottom compartment (filled with a 256MB module in our test machine). In contrast, the hard drive is a cinch to reach if you ever need to replace or upgrade it. Just remove one bottom screw and pull the drive out of the front of the notebook by its cover. The absence of indexes impedes any search for information, but we still give high overall marks to EMachines' user documentation, which includes a setup poster, a small printed manual, and an Acrobat manual on the hard drive.

A remarkable array of features and a low price make the M6810 a great value for home and small-business users.

Carla Thornton

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At a Glance
  • eMachines M6809

  • eMachines M6810

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