WHAT'S HOT: Our review system came well equipped for a reasonable price of $1399. The Altec Lansing ACS54W sound system, with four small but powerful satellite speakers and a subwoofer, provides enjoyable surround sound and makes for an enhanced movie-watching experience on the system's 16X DVD-ROM drive. There's also a 16X/10X/40X CD-RW drive. Audiophiles will appreciate, as well, the nifty NewQ Platinum audio control panel and an eye-catching blue-and-silver FM radio tuner that uses one 5.25-inch drive bay and comes with a credit-card-size remote control. NuTrend also threw in a Lexmark Z43 Color Jetprinter, a PC World Best Buy that retails for $100.
WHAT'S NOT: While the 17-inch Hitachi CM615 monitor did a fine job rendering our test photograph, it didn't fare as well with an image of a Microsoft Word document featuring mostly 12-point text--which it served up with a slightly blurry appearance. At 30GB, the Western Digital hard drive is on the small side for today's PCs, especially if you plan on storing up MP3 files.
WHAT ELSE: Equipped with a 1.5-MHz Pentium 4 processor and 256MB of RDRAM, our test system posted a PC WorldBench 4 score of 98. While that number beats out all the 1.5-, 1.7-, and 1.8-GHz Pentium 4 systems we have tested so far under Windows XP, it still trails the slowest Athlon-based PC we've seen (an Athlon-1333 system) by 13 points.
Game performance was mediocre. The 32MB Leadtek WinFast GeForce2 Pro graphics card could display images on the 17-inch monitor up to a resolution of 1024 by 768 at 32-bit color, but not without some quality loss in Unreal Tournament. Our judges also noted poor contrast in both Unreal and Quake III.
The Microsoft Internet Keyboard features plenty of useful shortcut keys. Bundled software includes WordPerfect Office 2002.
UPSHOT: If you're on a budget, this machine provides lots of nice features, but you may want to spring for a different monitor, and gamers will want to upgrade the graphics card. By Leigh Anne Jones