Summary: With a $400.00 budget I compared two laptops from W-mart, an Acer Aspire 7714Z-4643 with an Intel Pentium P6100 for $358.20 and the Sony VAIO VPCEE31FX/BJ AMD Athlon P340 for $403.20 both with 3GB of RAM. The Acer is a great deal and spec-wise is superior of the two with L3 cache and an excellent 17.3" screen in a very slim design.
Summary: Do not be dissuaded by the reviews giving this laptop only one or two stars. Most of those complain about characteristics common to almost all new laptops, like the position of the keypad; or they are based on comparisons between apples and oranges. I like the full keyboard including a separate numerical keypad. But, that means everything is shifted to the left. Most new laptops are configured this way.
Summary: I have been using this computer for barely a week. The built up is solid and it look more quality than the Toshiba Satellite I have which costs about the same price. It makes much noise compared to my Toshiba laptop. I have so far not had any problem with it. I feel it is worth the price and it is indeed a beautiful laptop.
Summary: I, too, paid $448.00 for this laptop at a local Walmart just before Christmas, so it came in at under $500 even with sales tax. I've worked in IT for 25 years and didn't really need much help understanding the relevant issues in buying a laptop, but I was surprised that a young salesman happened to be working who, after first advising me to steer clear of all of the store's underpowered and un-invitingly priced laptop inventory (he recommended shopping Tiger Direct...