"Great value, could use a few features."4.0 starson by warsev
Pros: Great price. Large, bright screen. Large keyboard with numeric pad. Core I3 processor and 4GB DDR3 is more than adequate for most jobs. 500GB HD.
Cons: The trackpad is just horrid - get a mouse. No USB-3 or E-SATA ports. Chintzy speakers.
Summary: I'll focus on the hardware aspects here. (The very first thing I did out of the box was wipe the disk clean and install a linux distribution, Ubuntu 10.10.)
The guts of it - For an entry-level CPU the 2.4 GHz Intel Core I3 is just great, and with 4GB of DDR3 this a very competent number cruncher. The Core I3 is a big step up from the Core 2 processor it replaces. I am running both the desktop environment and in parallel a complete LAMP server environment with multi-GB databases; the processor and RAM are fully adequate to the tasks.
The screen is big, bright, and decent resolution (1600x900). If it suffers any deficiency it's that brightness and contrast are highly dependent on viewing angle, especially up-down. You'll want to adjust the angle of the screen if you squirm in your chair.
Graphics display seems a tad slow compared to higher-end laptops. Viewing HD movies can at times be a bit choppy. In fairness, that may be as much a software issue (the player I'm using) as a hardware issue. The graphics processing hardware is what comes standard with the Core I3 processor. If you want heavy-duty high-res game support you might not be happy.
Keyboard - The keyboard is acceptable. It's large, but the square, flat keys lack feel. Ergonomics has taken a back seat to styling. The numeric keypad is a nice feature.
Trackpad - The trackpad is so bad that this computer would be better off without it. Your best bet is to turn the trackpad off and get a mouse or other external pointer device. That's what I did. The problem is that the trackpad blends visually and tactually with the rest of the case. When typing, every few seconds some part of a hand accidentally makes contact with the sensitive area of the case that is the trackpad, causing the cursor to move and your typing to go somewhere unintended. It's a real pain. Another instance of styling over ergonomics.
Speakers - The speakers work. That's about what can be said. If I was a marketing manager at Altec-Lansing I sure wouldn't put the company name on 'em. Don't expect to use the built-in speakers for any small group presentation.
No built-in BlueTooth. I see that's fairly common. Buy a cheap USB BlueTooth dongle. Why? With BlueTooth you then have instant anywhere/anytime internet connections through the mobile phone that's in your purse or hanging on your belt.
I/O ports - 3 x USB 2.0; RJ-45 ethernet; headphone/microphone jacks; HDMI jack; video jack; SD slot. My first wish is that it had either a USB 3.0 or ESATA port. I use a 1.4TB external disk for bulk data and backups, and it's SLOW over USB 2.0.
Re-reading what I wrote above, it sounds more negative than I intend. This is a nice laptop for the money, remembering that it is an entry-level machine. I'm happy with it and wouldn't hesitate to buy it again.