January 13, 2005 11:51 AM PST

DVD burners--the new feature in budget PCs

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Gateway ushered in four budget PCs under its eMachines brand on Thursday, including one with a DVD burner and the low-end price tag of $499 after a $50 rebate.

With the eMachines line, Gateway is hoping to gain market share with rock-bottom retail buyers. Although these PCs generally deliver lower margins than more expensive units, competition is fierce.

The latest salvo in this market involves offering recordable DVD drives in cheap PCs. The eMachines T2398, for instance, comes with a DVD+/-RW drive, 512MB of memory, an 80GB hard drive and an Intel Celeron D 340 (2.93 GHz) processor. It costs $499 after a $50 rebate.

Gateway isn't alone. Hewlett-Packard now lets customers upgrade CD-ROM drives to DVD +/-R/RW drives for free on HPshopping.com. Last summer, PCs with DVD burners typically sold in the $600 to $700 range.

Gateway also came out with two models under the $400 barrier, including $50 rebates: the $349 T3624 for $349 and the T3828 for $399. Both come with Celeron processors, 256MB of memory and 60GB to 80GB hard drives.

One of the fastest-growing PC companies in the late '90s, Gateway has been trying to right itself since August 2000, when computer sales began a dip. Although much of the PC market has recovered, Gateway continues to report quarterly losses. Since its merger with eMachines, however, the combined company has entered the retail arena and has begun again to sell PCs internationally.

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More customer disatisfaction
It is about time. The DVD burners are almost as cheap as CD burners after rebate. However, the DVD burning experience is sitll not as stable and trouble free as CD burning. The qualty of the media and the compatiblity with the burner are still issues (although not as bad as before). The regular people who are used to the CD burner may get frustrated with those issues with the DVD burning. But that may be a good thing. Maybe by the end of this year, DVD burning will be as stable as CD burning:-)
Posted by netdog00 (6 comments )
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DVD Burning Will Improve; eMachines Does It Again
The previous post expresses some frustration with the state of DVD burning in the computer industry right now. I think part of it may be what brands the public buys. I have owned two Pioneer DVD burners and have had no problems with either. When I buy DVD media I tend to stick with better, established brands such as Verbatim, HP, and Sony. And while an article I read last year mentioned that the suppliers for such companies may make the quality issue somewhat moot, I haven't been disappointed by any of those names yet.

Burning applications have also improved. I've been very pleased with the performance from Nero, Roxio and Ulead's products. Anyone seeking to archive video (analog or digital) to DVD, I'd highly recommend Ulead's DVD Movie Factory and VideoStudio products (the new 8th edition of VideoStudio was released recently). They offer sufficiently simple interfaces that are visually attractive and easy to use. Better still, pick up a 8X8 or 16X16 Pioneer burner and you can get the "lite" version of these products thrown in for free.

About two years ago, I agonized over the whole format wars thing - you know, the plus or the dash? DVD-R? DVD+R? Which is better? It was VHS vs Beta all over again. Happily for consumers, dual format burners have become the standard so no one has to scratch their head to figure out which to buy. And prices have dropped like a rock - a dual-platform 8X DVD-R/RW burner I bought not even a year ago for about $109 after a $30 rebate has been trumped by a 16X burner only a few weeks ago - for the same price! (Naturally, I bought it!)

I guess I say all this to say that if anyone's dissatisfied with the state of DVD burning hardware and software, shop around. There aren't just more options than ever before, there are BETTER options.

Turning to eMachines, I just love this company. I know there are those out there that loathe them, but I have had nothing but good luck with them. I have owned two machines and think they're an underrated brand (overshadowed by the likes of Dell). eMachines has consistently found a way to bring new technology to retailers with a package offering value and convenience. That they're still around says something. They're not a "cheap" brand a-la clone makers, they're a good, low-cost brand. I'm not at all surprised they're one of the first to offer DVD burners as standard equipment on their desktop systems AND keep the price down.

Now, if only they'd offer cheaper laptops!
Posted by truegenius (33 comments )
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Here's something interesting....
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.FreeMiniMacs.com/?r=13956630" target="_newWindow">http://www.FreeMiniMacs.com/?r=13956630</a>
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