Reviews Written By: An Reviewer

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Mens' Merino Wool Sweater - GrayMens' Merino Wool Sweater - Gray
Rated 4 Stars"Light, reasonably warm sweater"
Pros: It's a very light and thin wool, which makes it very easy and comfortable to wear. Since it's wool, it keeps you warmer than cotton. Feels soft too.

Cons: Not the warmest wool, better for moderately (rather than extremely) cold weather.

Neutal: The fit is just a bit large for a small sweater - more of a loose look than a tighter, fitted look.

Mens' Merino Wool Sweater - GrayMens' Merino Wool Sweater - Gray
Rated 3 Stars"good staple item"
Not too heavy, not too light... Good staple item...

Mens' Merino Wool Sweater - GrayMens' Merino Wool Sweater - Gray
Rated 4 Stars"classy look and lightweight"
Got this for my son along with the black version. He loves both because he can wear them almost anytime to make any outfit look better. He wants more colors now, so what can you do.

Edward Gorey Edward Gorey "There's No Such Thing as Too Many Books" Sweatshirt
Rated 5 Stars"Never too many books"
This was a gift for a special someone. It's a great sweatshirt and is well liked. It did seem well made even though it can be considered a novelty sweatshirt.

Most of all, it keeps my special person warm on cold nights.

Apple iMac Desktop with 17Apple iMac Desktop with 17" M8812LL/A
Rated 5 Stars"No more gray box of death" 2002-10-08
Apple gets a bad rap for having "pricey" computers, but I've never found them to be such. Just look at what this baby comes with:

256 MB RAM.
The wonderful G4 processor, at 800 MHz, which is deceptively fast.
80 GB Ultra ATA Hard Drive
The SuperDrive which lets me burn CDs and DVDs.
A crystal clear 17" flat panel display. Flat panel monitors run into the HUNDREDS of dollars by themselves (...).
10/100 Base-T ethernet port.
TWO FireWire Ports
FIVE USB ports (three on the console, two on the keyboard)
NVIDIA GForce 4 MX Graphics card
Apple Pro Optical Mouse
Apple Pro speakers, and they are outstanding.
Built-in Microphone
Built in Airport antenna, for wireless networking.
Mac OS 9 and the luscious, UNIX-based Jaguar (OS X 10.2)
AppleWorks, a convenient suite of Office-type apps. Their database app is one of the easiest and friendliest around. I store lists of books, CDs and other such things with it.
The amazing iApps: iChat, iMovie, iPhoto, iDVD and iTunes, all of which make computing so easy and fun in the digital age.
And still more apps--too many to list here.

To buy a quality PC with all of these things would cost about the same, if not more. The ports alone make this a good investment. Best of all, I know all the things in this computer will work together. That's what having a Mac is all about.

As always, Apple doesn't do anything on the cheap, not even with their "everyman" computers, like the iMac. Everything here is top of the line, and it all works beautifully. The most taxing thing about setting up the computer was getting it out of the box (the design makes it more fragile than most computers). Once I had that done, I had it up and running in about 15 minutes--and some of that time was spent upgrading to Jaguar. Connecting to my husband's Powerbook through our DSL router was as easy as clicking on Connect to Server, then clicking on his computer in the listbox. Jaguar even recognized my son's PC, and I was yanking mp3s off there, very fast.

The computer itself is very quiet, although the SuperDrive can get rather noisy at times. But the hard drive? Barely a peep out of it. The display is crisp and clean. The screen really does move with the touch of one finger--smoothly, effortlessly. The G4 processor screams through apps. Burning mp3s and CDs has never been easier, thanks to iTunes. Downloading mp3s and audio books to my iPod is a dream--and speedy indeed over the FireWire connection. I made a DVD the other day of just some clips that I'd collected over the years, and it was disgustingly easy with iDVD. I connected my new Olympus digital camera through the USB port; iPhoto popped right up and filled up the screen with thumbnails of my digital images--with only one click asking if I wanted iPhoto to always do that. Everything just WORKS with this computer, seamlessly, flawlessly, which has been the most refreshing thing about switching to Apple.

But let's face it: Besides the fact that it's a Macintosh, which means a user-friendly computer with quality hardware, the real reason anyone buys this new iMac is because its design is flat-out cool. It is so beautiful that, even weeks after receiving it, I'll just sit there staring at it, still amazed that THIS is a computer. Having my computer's circuitry nestled under a dome rather than entombed in yet another rectangular box is a delight. A round computer case! Who but Apple would have thought of it? Everybody will copy this idea (Gateway[snort!] has already tried), but, as usual, no one will come close to matching the sheer ingenuity of what Apple has done. Don't be fooled by wannabes. This is the real thing, and it's worth every penny you'll spend on it--and then some.

Apple iMac Desktop with 17Apple iMac Desktop with 17" M8812LL/A
Rated 5 Stars"An absolute delight to use" 2003-01-15
I've used Windows PCs for 10 years, I'm a "switcher". The main thing that kept me from switching before was the perceived hassle of being a Mac user, which is no longer the case...I can how share Microsoft Office documents with PC users. Additionally, there is no longer an Apple premium, as there was in the past. Try pricing out a Pentium 4 2.x Ghz with 512 MB SDRAM, 80 GB hard drive, 5 USB ports, 2 firewire ports, 17" flat-panel LCD, DVD-R/CD-RW drive, with real software (not "lite" versions or shovelware) and you'll see what I mean. You get iPhoto for managing your pictures, iMovie for DV editing, iDVD for burning DVDs, and iTunes for managing MP3s. Everything works right the first time and it doesn't crash several times a day. Unlike Windows, OS X is a true multi-tasking operating system. You can copy files, burn CDs, surf the web, etc. at the same time without the computer locking up. I highly recommend this product. You'll have a hard time finding a PC that can perform like the iMac...

Apple iMac Desktop with 17Apple iMac Desktop with 17" M8812LL/A
Rated 5 Stars"Best computer I've ever owned" 2003-11-27
Before purchasing my iMac, I was a PC user, but I always thought that it would be great to own a Mac. Since I got my iMac, I have never looked back. I can honestly say that this is the best computer I've ever owned.

The operating system, Mac OS X, is extremely stable and almost flawless. And the applications that come built into OS X (iTunes, iPhoto and iMovie to name a few) are wonderful. I have over 1100 songs on iTunes which automatically syncs with my iPod when I plug it in.

Of course, I also love how beautiful the iMac is. The screen looks as if it just floats in mid-air.

I am so glad that I "switched" to a Mac. I absolutley love this computer, and I know the next time I buy a computer, it will be a Mac.

Sony VAIO PCV-RZ46G Media Center Desktop (3.20-GHz Pentium 4 (Hyper-Threading), 1 GB RAM, 200 GB Hard Drive, DVD+/-RW/CD-RW Drive)Sony VAIO PCV-RZ46G Media Center Desktop (3.20-GHz Pentium 4 (Hyper-Threading), 1 GB RAM, 200 GB Hard Drive, DVD+/-RW/CD-RW Drive)
Rated 5 Stars"Click to DVD" 2003-12-18
Top of the line. Expensive, worth every penny. Sony made it easy to covert (VHS, VHS-C and 8mm) to DVD, a one step process.
Video ports are front and rear. I have a VCR connected to the computer and it will convert tapes to DVD with a very low learning curve. Use "Click to DVD" and the program does it.
Computer, $2200. Saving Grandma in 1988 to DVD - Priceless.

Sony VAIO PCV-RZ46G Media Center Desktop (3.20-GHz Pentium 4 (Hyper-Threading), 1 GB RAM, 200 GB Hard Drive, DVD+/-RW/CD-RW Drive)Sony VAIO PCV-RZ46G Media Center Desktop (3.20-GHz Pentium 4 (Hyper-Threading), 1 GB RAM, 200 GB Hard Drive, DVD+/-RW/CD-RW Drive)
Rated 5 Stars"I wish it were mine" 2003-11-29
The family next door bought one of these and they were nice enough to let me have a go at it. Work-Of-Art. This machine rocks. We took every game they had, cranked up the settings as high as they would go (frame-rates that would kill my computer) and it didn't even blink.

They even showed me how well it does two things at once - like burn a cd and play a game on the side while they were waiting. When I burn a cd I have to go do something else because my computer slows to a crawl.

And it just looks awesome. It cost a lot, but I am giving it some serious thought. There is nothing else like it.

Sony VAIO PCV-W510G DesktopSony VAIO PCV-W510G Desktop
Rated 4 Stars"Turn up the volume" 2003-12-19
Sony's newest style is visually stunning with lots of cool features, but..... the speakers suck. They are way too quiet and they don't have any bass or treble control. Since they market it as a computer/tv, you would think that they would put a decent sound system in it. Luckily, I have been able to hook up an external set of speakers to it, but it takes away from the sleekness and versatility of the computer. It also comes preinstalled with way to much junk software, and no operating system cd's for reformatting.

Given that, I would still buy it because it's fresh new style. The computer itself is really thin and the screen is really nice. It is cool to look at web pages in widescreen format. I would suggest to buy it, but only if you are ok with adding external speakers.

Apple Power Mac Desktop M8689LL/AApple Power Mac Desktop M8689LL/A
Rated 4 Stars"Fast. but really noisy" 2003-10-05
I've been a Mac fan since the PB 180, but had gone PC for a while. I came back to the Mac with this DP G4 and love it. It's fast and has all of the goodies. We made a DVD of my son's first year with iMovie and made a DVD our families love. You can't do that on a PC without a lof of expensive software and hardware. My only issue is the noise.

Apple Power Mac Desktop M8689LL/AApple Power Mac Desktop M8689LL/A
Rated 3 Stars"You might want to check this first :" 2003-01-12

My advice : Listen to a G4 first when you consider buying one; as it seems, not all of them are equally noisy.

Other than that, the new G4 series is great; real workhorses and OS X also is fantastic.

Apple Power Mac Desktop M8689LL/AApple Power Mac Desktop M8689LL/A
Rated 3 Stars"Not bad but not great" 2002-12-09
Apple has fallen behind the curve because Motorolla is falling apart. The guy who led the PowerPC development now works for Intel. IBM will step in soon to save the day and put Apple back on track (or so I pray), but what until then? Well this machine is okay, but before you buy you should know the good and bad. Apple like any company spews out a lot of marketing garbage and too many people take it at face value.

Go read this review on the slightly faster 1.25 DP machines coming out soon:

These guys are some of the top CPU reviewers out there and they give Apple a fair run against Intel and AMD computers and let you know where Apple does well and where it does poorly.

Apple Power Mac G5 Desktop M9031LL/AApple Power Mac G5 Desktop M9031LL/A
Rated 5 Stars"New Apple user"
I just bought my new G5 and it is the first Apple I have owned. My first G5 did not work and it was new sent directly from Apple. This happens from time to time. It took almost 2 weeks to get from order time with ground Fed X shipping. I was a bit surprised at the length and it was not very clear when ordering from Apple that it would take this long. They did send me a new PC since the first was broken, but I had to package up the broken one and bring it to a Fed X shipping drop off some miles away from my house and it took many phone calls to Apple. The second computer was supposed to be sent 2 day, but that did not happen either. A mistake was made on their end that delayed my second computer from arriving. In all, it took just short of a month to receive my working G5. Apple customer support is difficult to contact, obviously I had to make several calls (first sales, then tech support, then sales again, etc about 7-8 in all) which each had a wait time to talk to someone of at least 25 minutes. It was a time consuming process, but the tech support was great and worth the time to wait there.

I am an experienced PC user so it was and still is a bit of a transition. Once you get the function variations down, you notice that operating the Mac is so much simpler than a PC. My favorite thing is not having to negotiate through Internet popups of course. Simple things such as this are built in to the Mac and are so easy to enable and disable. The G5 is super fast and silent. My only discontent with the machine actually is with software and hardware compatibility. I have since found that it is hard to find software and some hardware locally that is compatible with OS X panther. Programs I love to use, like MSN or Yahoo Messenger, lack in functionality with the Mac. The costs of my Children's games are quite a bit higher as well and most do not work in the OS X platform yet either. When purchasing equipment such as web cam's, printers, etc, it is critical that you verify and double verify that they will work with your PC. This is really not a MAC issue, more of an industry issue, but it is real and limits what you can do, especially if you are an old PC user. This is becoming less important as I find good Internet sites and other resources to find Mac support; it just takes a bit of getting use to.

Even with all of the problems I had, I would highly recommend this product. I do believe Murphy had a bit to do with my experience and with the exception of the long wait times, and I am hoping Apple gets on this one, they did handle it in a professional and very acceptable manner. I love my new machine and am slowly building up a software inventory that has awesome graphics and play speed. I am even getting good at locating drivers for devices from sources other than the hardware manufacturers, since they are so slow to step up to the plate, which expands the hardware compatibility issue.

Apple Power Mac G5 Desktop M9031LL/AApple Power Mac G5 Desktop M9031LL/A
Rated 5 Stars"Sleek, fast, and quiet"
This is an amazing machine. Got one for my office and it is virtually silent. It is left on 24 hrs a day and it is never heard except for the hard disk.

Opening the machine to install RAM or an airport card is easy. The inside is AMAZINGLY well engineered and beautiful. There is no need for any tools to install RAM or an airport card.

You won't be disappointed.

Apple Power Mac G5 Desktop M9031LL/AApple Power Mac G5 Desktop M9031LL/A
Rated 5 Stars"The Personal Supercomputer"
The G5 looks like something out of a sci-fi flick, and performs even better. The really scary thing is the surface is just being scratched on this thing, with few programs compiled around its 64-bit processor. More on that in a minute ...

Despite being a beast of a machine (nearly 60 lbs!) and probably the complex computer Apple has ever sold, it is a breeze to set it up and get it going (remember this is a Mac!) I bought it with a seperate Airport Extreme Card that was trivial to install. The G5 even comes with an external Airport antenna.

The included keyboard is very minimal and can take some getting used to. The keys are so tight that I often found myself hitting F13 when trying to hit the delete key. The mouse is a classic Apple mouse, i.e. one button and no scroll wheel. Personally I like Apple mice because they are very natural to use, even though it would seem like two buttons and scroll wheel could be added withot upsetting the ergonomic...

The G5 is amazingly quiet ... most of the time. I have it sitting just a few feet from a P4 2.4GHz and the difference in sound is amazing. I have got the G5 to be noisy though, while installing Panther, and it was incredibly loud then. Nothing else I've done has been able to get it to be quiet. The superdrive is a little noisy, though really no more than most high speed optical drives.

My G5 came with Jaguar pre-installed, but with a full retail version of Panther included in the box. I was very pleased with this, as most computers (not just Apple) only come with "restore" disks. I could write a ton just about Panther, but I will keep it short. I setup the G5 with Jaguar then immediately installed Panther. It took less than 20 minutes to install it, which is amazingly fast (no doubt because the hard drive was nearly empty!)

I was also pleased to see that the G5 software bundle included a Photoshop patch to optimize Photoshop (7.0.1) for use with the G5 cpu. You could download this from Adobe's website, but it was cool that they included it anyways. I didn't run Photoshop on the G5 without the patch, so I can't really say what the net effect of the patch is, but Photoshop on my G5 is so much faster than Photoshop on my P4 ... there is no comparison!

iTunes and iDvd are also very speedy on the G5. I could rip CDs to 256 kbps AAC at speeds over 16x. Again this blows away my P4. I was also able to make a dvd of my wedding, using a dv recording of the 15 minute ceremony, a 10 minute slideshow of pictures (made with iPhoto), and more pics and music for menus. iDvd made it a breeze to put together, and burned the dvd in less than 30 minutes. I made a similar project once using a friend's G4 and it took almost three times as long.

Finally, when it comes to picking your G5, I must recommend the 1.8 GHz as being the best bang-for-the-buck. The 1.6 GHz version has notable downgrades in comparison (no pci-x, no ddr 400, etc.) The dual 2GHz is virtually identical to the 1.8 GHz version, but having dual processors. Also, I recommend sticking with the cheaper NVidia graphics card. The ATI cards are more highly regarded, but most of that is for their superior DirectX 9 implementation. DirectX 9 is a Windows technology, so it is meaningless on a Mac. Everything on a Mac uses lots of OpenGL, and NVidia is superior on OpenGL. So the NVidia card is really better than the ATI 9600 that is available, though it is cheaper. The ATI 9800 probably outperforms the NVidia, courtesy of having twice the amount of memory, but it is $350 more.

Compaq Presario S5010NX-B Desktop PCCompaq Presario S5010NX-B Desktop PC
Rated 3 Stars"Compaq Presario"
I think this looks great and easy to use and not heavy in case of moving or just rearannging furniture!

HP Pavilion Media Center m390-b Photosmart PCHP Pavilion Media Center m390-b Photosmart PC
Rated 4 Stars"Good, but definately not the best"
To the user reviewing this before me. This computer is by far not the best. It's GeForce FX5600 is definately a disappointment, a Radeon 9800 Xt/Pro or a GeForce FX5950 Ultra would make it alot better. 200 GB drive is nice, but I would replace it with 2 10,000 RPM WD Raptors in a Raid Array. 512 MB of SD RAM? What were they thinking? Clearly Double Data Rate memory is better, so why even bother with the Synchronous RAM, oh well. Good computer with the software bundles, but could use some help and fine tuning.

Good for the average gamer or video editor, but by no means a dream machine for a hardcore gamer.

HP Pavilion Media Center m390-b Photosmart PCHP Pavilion Media Center m390-b Photosmart PC
THIS IS THE BESt COMPUTER ANYWERE! This is perfect for anyone who is into gaming, editing, music, etc. The tv out function and capture drive are extremely helpful. Automatically plays videos on your tv enev wen the video isnt maximized. The media center software is the best of the best. With the movie link, cable guide, and being abble to access your music, videos and pictures, all throught the media center, it cant get any better!
This is the perfect computer

HP Pavilion a350n Desktop PCHP Pavilion a350n Desktop PC
Rated 5 Stars"The HP a350n - FABULOUS!"
My parents own a Gateway, a Sony and a Dell - all three purchased in the last three years. It is my opinion that all three systems were a waste of our money - with graphics and shared memory. Great service from Dell and Gateway but they often times told my brother, sister, and I as college students we did something wrong. I guess when one of use turned the PC on, it was wrong thing to do.

My dad's firm uses HP Servers and he was referred to look at the HP Pavilions. He is an IT Manager and knows how to get answers to his questions. The HP service recommended he take a look at the Pavilion line that were introduced in the 2nd half 2003 and my dad did so.

My mom and dad ended up buying me an HP a350n for Christmas. I had it setup and burning DVDs in under one hour. It is so very quiet and very powerful. The CPU is a P-IV with HyperThreading - meaning the CPU can run tasks in parallel. I mean the unit is very fast. And the graphics card, although not the best on the market, is very adaquate for gaming, burning and viewing DVDs, digital photography, and my college work. My dad loaded software he purchased from Microsoft - including Office and Visio.

The HP a350n is fabulous. Now, I can do my homework and research work from my apartment at college and do my digital photography too.

A friend received a Sony DS420 for Christmas. Both the HP a350n and Sony DS420 are comparably equipped - with the Sony coming with more software titles but a slightly smaller hard drive. My friend and I were going to run benchmark tests side-by-side. But, two weeks after Christmas, my friend is still waiting to setup his Sony. At first, he could not get support to give him a straight answer to why Windows XP would not load. His recovery files were not there. He finally got some help from Sony service and an RMA for the HD. I helped him extract the HD from the case and package it up to be returned. There is no assurance the HD is the problem. I suspect the problem is the HD controllers on the mother board. My friend paid for expidited S&H or else it would be longer time without his "new" PC. He is waiting for the HD to be returned. He will go to college without it - and wait until he comes home for a holiday.

I had a few problems with my A350n but nothing serious. The XP operating system (XP Home) needed some tweaking that my dad helped me with. And HP Service helpdesk was excellent too! I spoke with a "David" who was very helpful and curteous. I am no "hot-shot guru" but he stepped me through some evaluations / testing, explaining what the test results meant and what to do to resolve the problem.

The HP a350n is a fabulous computer. I am a happy and satisfied HP customer.

Now, we are packaging the unit up so I can take it to college with me when I leave on Saturday for the San Francisco Bay area.

I am excited about my HP Pavilion a350n. Thank you HP!

HP Pavilion a350n Desktop PCHP Pavilion a350n Desktop PC
Rated 1 Stars"Sounded better then it was"
Like the other person, this PC did not work right out of the box. I changed it for another and it also failed to work, but it took a few hours for me to find that out.
I have found it to be very slow, locks up a lot, and stops responding in the middle of your work.
I have also received little to no help from HP, I was told to bring it back again and get a refund and buy it from their online store, WHY? They would not honor their warranty.
I also had a problem when I installed the printer software (HP) the computer tried to install the software everytime I clicked on an icon on the desktop. I tried to do a system recovery, this helped that problem. I then redid all the work I had done before and made a recovery DVD. Only to find that after I did this the DVD drive shut down and I cannot use the drive. I tried to do the system recovery again but it did not restore the dvd drive.
One of the features I went for was the DVD drive. I thought I would give HP another try and switch it out yet AGAIN, to find that again the software was installing itself but this time it was MS Money the software that is already on the PC when you buy it and they dont give you the disc and it would prompt me to insert my disc to either un/install the product. i had a service person look at the problem and told me that I needed to recover the whole system to rid the problem, so again I spent waisted hours re-doing the whole setup process and getting all the software back on the pc. To have the DVD drive go out again.
I say it is a typewriter cause all you can do is type anything else is too much for this pc to handle.

HP Pavilion a350n Desktop PCHP Pavilion a350n Desktop PC
Rated 5 Stars"Great Product From HP!"
I just bought my HP Pavilion a350n an after-Christmas sale. I had bought my wife an HP Pavilion PC with a Celeron but I wanted a more powerful unit for myself. I currently do database and software development work as a consultant. The store gave me an excellent deal on the two PCs - for buying multiple PCs.

We have had very good experience with HP's. In 1998, we purchased an HP Pavilion with a P-II/400. In June 2000, we bought an HP OmniBook laptop with a P-II/400. Both are still running today - and are fully functional PCs. A little slow but they are operating.

I did a comparison of PCs and decided I'd get an HP Pavilion a350n. I compared it to many $1,000-PCs (including Sony 420) and decided the HP Pavilion a350n was the one I'd get. My previous positive experience with HP was a factor.

The HP Pavilion a350n is a fabulous computer for home or home/office. It is reliable, well-equipped, and F-A-S-T! Set-up ran flawlessly. The PC is quiet - very quiet. Software included is very good. Graphics are excellent. It is an excellent value for the dollars invested.

One thing - I explored the 160-GB HD and found extra preloaded software that was not advertised. The HD, after setup, had 130-GB free. HP uses about 8-GB of the 160-GB HD for its recovery partition. The other 22-GB was pre-loaded software - much of it I have not loaded. I explored the pre-loaded folders and found several software titles not advertised that was pre-loaded that I was going to buy. A nice addition from HP.

One piece of advice: After two days, the PC began failing to shutdown a video driver application on shutdown. I went to HP's website and saw they had an update that had been loaded and installed during the setup process. I went to NVIDA's website and saw they (NVIDIA) had a more recent update dated mid-December 2003. I downloaded & installed the updated drivers and the problem went away. I recommend getting the updated video drivers directly from NVIDIA's website. The drivers seem to have fixed the minor problem I was encountering. I consider this a "little inconvenience" and not major - taking maybe 20-minutes time to correct.

I feel, overall, the HP Pavilion a350n is an excellent value. Thank you HP.

HP Pavilion a300n Desktop PCHP Pavilion a300n Desktop PC
Rated 3 Stars"IT DOES NOT HAVE DVD" 2003-12-10
This is a good system but it does NOT have DVD. Whomever composed the editorial review must be getting tips on creative writing from the New York Times investigative journalism staff. Check the HP main site for verification. I've emailed Amazon about this a week ago but I haven't seen a reply yet...

HP Pavilion a300n Desktop PCHP Pavilion a300n Desktop PC
Rated 5 Stars"Great system" 2003-11-29
On a budget? Need a good computer? You found it. I just bought one and it is a major improvement over my old computer. This system has been great for surfing the web and it handles my games (mostly flight sims) just fine. Setup was a snap (and I'm not a computer person). It looks a lot better than my old system too.

Apple Power Mac Desktop M9145LL/AApple Power Mac Desktop M9145LL/A
Rated 4 Stars"Loud Fans" 2003-12-30
Pretty new to the Apple thing. After being frustrated with PC's I made the jump to Apple G4. So far I like the straight forward approach, and I'm doing really cool things on Pro Tools recording software. I'm also starting to learn a little bit about Flash, Photoshop, and Quark which is really fun. If you want a good computer for creative endeavors Apple is the way to go. My main complaint about the computer is the loud fans. There is a constant hum and it makes it impossible to do any quiet computing.

HP Pavilion a320n Desktop PCHP Pavilion a320n Desktop PC
Rated 3 Stars"Great machine, but..." 2003-12-29
I bought two of these machines, one for me and one for my mother-in-law, because of the great deal. My machine worked great except for a little bit of intermittent "whirring" that I paid no attention to. The other machine had problems even burning a full set of the system recovery disks, however.

It turns out the 2nd machine had a power supply issue which made the CD-RW and hard drive work intermittently; not a good thing. I determined that the noise from the 1st machine was the same problem, though I experienced no performance issues.

Just to be safe, though, I'm returning both and upgrading to the 350. I wanted a DVD burner anyway and I'm eager to see what the "hyper-threading technology" can do for a processor. I'll probably review that one next week (1/04).

So, all-in-all, I didn't have the machine long but really liked it. If there are no problems, it's fast, quiet, runs mid-level games very well (didn't try anything real high-end), has very easy-to-use recording software, has lots of storage device ports and looks great. Perfect for the intermediate user. I guess it's just a matter of getting one with everything working (as I've found several problem-filled reviews on-line).

Note: A previous reviewer said that the PC doesn't come with any disks, which is true. If you've purchased any computers in the past 5 years however, you know that there is a trend towards pre-loaded everything without disks (cab files, etc.), including Windows. That is why you should create a set of system recovery disks when you first get the PC (finding out if the CD-RW works correctly while you're at it), though I'm not sure why they only allow you to do it once. Make copies of those disks, I guess! The rest of the disks you used to get with a PC was just useless software anyway. And there are multiple ways to "restore", including a Windows restore option. Read the manual.

The reviewer also mentioned the fact that there is a lot of "junk" "trial software" and that it wasn't listed in the control panel. Unless you build your own PC, they pretty much all come like this and the software is easily deleted. No, you can't do it from "Add/Remove Programs" but if you know your way around a PC a little bit, it's not a problem. (If not, don't worry; you have a 120GB hard drive after all!) The software companies aren't subsidizing the PC makers just so you can remove all their software as soon as you get the machine! You can argue that you didn't pay all that money to have to take stuff out, but in actuality you probably did, considering the comparatively low price.

Also at issue was the "HP Organizer". This isn't the type of program for me, but I can see it being handy to the novice PC user. There is a link right on the window for options, which allows you to tell it not to run at boot-up. Pretty simple. It only interferes with Windows as long as you keep it open. Just click the, "X". Again, pretty simple.

Whatever you do, however, don't buy a Dell. I'd go into the horror stories about the Dell users I know, but it's the holidays and you don't need that kind of carnage on your mind.

HP Pavilion a320n Desktop PCHP Pavilion a320n Desktop PC
Rated 5 Stars"Great Computer" 2003-12-01
I bought this computer about a month ago and absolutly love it. The 7 in one media bay on the front is suprisingly handy for digital cameras, and the software seems to be flawless. Everything you could possibly need for your home computer is included. I would also like to add that this computer really includes just about any of the software you will need to use right out of the box. Except for installing a couple drivers, this computer is good to go the moment you plug it in. Everything seems to work extrememly smoothly.

HP Pavilion a320n Desktop PCHP Pavilion a320n Desktop PC
Rated 5 Stars"Great Computer.."
I just bought the a320n about three days ago and I really like it a lot. It may be because I went from an HP with a Pentium 3 856 with 256MB SD RAM to this computer, however, it came with a lot of the things that I wanted in a computer. I don't use the computer for anything really complicated, I just like to download stuff, write papers, do powerpoint presentation and other meaningless things. But the computer came with a lot of useful stuff like Norton Anti-Virus, Microsoft Money 2003 (Microsoft Works), and it also came with Quicken, which was kind of convienient since I'm about to enter the realm of dealing with bills and getting a constant paycheck and with my growing interest in the stockmarket. Anyway, It came with the necessary stuff, like a good AMD processor, not the fastest one, but it is powerful enough to deal with everyday computations and a little more. What does make a difference is that HP excelled in upgrading stuff that was more important, like 512 MB DDR RAM, 120 gig hardrive, and USB ports all over the place. I thought this was excellent because it kept the price down and I was able to afford the 17 inch flat panel from HP, the F1703. All in all, it's not the fastest computer out there, but it is definately worth it for anyone just using for there home and school. I looked at one from Dell that had what I had, including 17 inch flat panel monitor and the computer itself, and it came out to a little more than 1400 dollars, I bought the HP (with monitor) for 1223.

Linare PC 1.3-GHz AMD DuronLinare PC 1.3-GHz AMD Duron
Rated 5 Stars"Great price for a great computer" 2003-12-08
I'm a big linux user and I was looking for a system for a few clients. These Linare systems are excelent as workstations for a client of mine, as they only need a computer to access the web, they were thinking of going with windows XP, but XP itself costs as much as one of these computers. Thanks Linare

Sony VAIO PCV-RS420 DesktopSony VAIO PCV-RS420 Desktop
Rated 3 Stars"Great for on-line or work -- Gamers should stay away" 2004-01-03
Clarification of how this product was rated...
+ One star for gamers or heavy media users
+ Four stars for home office applications

I usually start out with the pro's, but given the seriousness (or even worse, silliness) of the cons, I am going to start with those...

1) Virtually no software *of value* is delivered with this machine. Except those items that are automatically bundled with Windows XP (MS Works, Explorer, Windows Media Player, etc), you're on your own when it comes to software. As a matter of fact, there was so little software, I originally thought someone forgot to load it. A brief call to the Sony help line (22 minute wait for a rep) quickly cleared this up.
2) The cabling for the mouse, speakers, and keyboard is uncommonly short. Fully eighteen inches shorter than the cables that came with the PC that the Sony is replacing. I really have to question the decision making process that Sony used here.
3) The speakers that came with the machine are not even worth plugging in. The thin sound delivered is accompanied by noticeable crackles (on new CDs) and they even distort the music. This is especially disappointing given Sony's heritage of excellence in audio products.
4) The issue with the sound, coupled with a weak video card, is why I suggest gamers stay away. Although for a little more money, you can pick up some decent speakers and a video card that would make this PC rock

1) The tightest boxing and packaging of a PC that I have ever seen (this is my 7th or 8th PC). Gives me a warm and fuzzy that this thing is built to last.
2) When I checked under the hood, with the exception of the weak video card, everything looked to be of very high quality.
3) Great form factor -- the box looks great and they have packed a lot of power into a surprisingly small space -- great for those with limited desk space
4) USB slots to spare (I have found 6, the documentation suggests there are 8)
5) I am unfortunately still only able to get dial-up service, but the v.92 compatible modem coupled with the 512 MB of RAM and 2.8 Ghz CPU clock speed (with hyperthreading) make it seem like the internet is loading much, much faster
6) Easy set-up (important if you're a first time buyer!)
7) Buttery smooth operation for both the DVD recorder and CD-RW drives -- and both are wicked fast
8) Lightening fast handling of word processor and spreadsheet applications

Net/net: questionable cost savings decisions by Sony turned what could have been an awesome PC-for-the-home product into a sometimes silly, sometimes smoking solution for all but gamers.

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