Packard Bell EasyNote RS65-M-700 review
Surprisingly nice design, but this laptop is surpassed on most fronts by the cheaper, more powerful competition.
Packard Bell might not be a name synonymous with finely-honed laptop design, but its laptop range has recently gone under the knife, and if recent efforts are anything to by that preconception is likely to change. In November we saw the netbook-beating EasyNote BG45 with its sleek brushed metal chassis and circular touchpad, and now its bigger brother has landed, the EasyNote RS65, which shares more than a little of its style.
The wristrest and keyboard surround have the same brushed black metal surrounding the keyboard, highlighted with chrome flourishes around the edge and a black gloss border around the screen, but it is noticeably more refined than its cheaper cousin. The strip of gloss black plastic slashing across the top of the keyboard and spreading onto the display's bezel contrasts wonderfully with the brushed aluminium textures elsewhere, and nice design touches extend to the silver tubular lid hinge and an array of glowing red LEDs. Even the honeycomb effect on the dull grey-brown lid is smart.
It also shares the BG45's circular touchpad design - one of the most distinctive traits of Packard Bell's new range - which, in addition to its unique shape, is also perfectly usable. Underneath this sits a single mouse button, which rocks in the middle to give either left or right clicks. Unlike other all-in-one button designs we've seen, this one works well and doesn't infuriate with errant clicks.
And, yet another design flourish comes courtesy of the touch-sensitive volume control above the keyboard - a string of red LEDs that lights up like Michael Knight's KITT at the swipe of a finger. Even the optical drive has been given an overhaul, with a neat slot-loading drive hidden away on the right of the chassis. If it weren't for the etched Packard Bell logo, we'd never have guessed it.
The laptop is far from being all show and no go, though. With a 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo and a huge 4GB of RAM the performance is far better than its smaller cousin's, managing a pleasingly round 1.00 in our 2D benchmarks. 3D performance is forgivably not quite as impressive, although it did churn out 25 frames per second in Crysis at low settings, so moderate gaming is possible. When we cranked the game up to medium settings this fell rapidly to an unplayable seven frames per second, but less demanding titles will be much less of an ordeal for the modest grunt of the ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3470 chipset.
The 13.3in screen crams in just 1,280 by 800 pixels, which is fairly standard for a notebook of this size, but it's a clear and bright panel with a glossy coating that gives contrast a boost. This can prove irritating in office conditions or out in the open where bright lights can give strong reflections. Connecting an external monitor is easy, though, should you want to boost your desktop space when at home or in the office, with both DVI and HDMI outputs to choose from.
The RS65 does have its flaws. First, for a 13.3in notebook, it isn't actually all that portable. The screen surround is quite wide, and the chassis almost 4cm thick. It's heavy too, weighing in at 2.4kg, a weight which isn't a million miles away from larger 15.4in laptops - the Lenovo T500 (see pXX), for example, weighs just 200g more.
Second, battery life is poor. We kicked off the test with our idle test and were running for a mains socket after just three hours and 38 minutes, a result that leaves the Packard Bell lagging behind its main competitors, such as the fine Samsung Q310.