Packard Bell EasyNote TR87 review

12 Oct 2009

Not a terrible all-round performer, but its strongest suit is its looks

Price when reviewed: 
600(£600 inc VAT)
4

If you associate Packard Bell with bargain-basement PCs, you're in for a shock: the EasyNote TR87 is a more glamorous offering than you might expect. Its outside is decorated in classic gloss-black, with a chrome-effect trim and a swish slot-loading DVD writer. Inside, its "hot red" touch-sensitive controls and a curved speaker bar add a futuristic feel.

But much of this distinction is merely cosmetic. With its 2.1GHz T6500 processor, the TR87 scored a merely average 0.99 in our benchmarks. That's despite Packard Bell maxing out the memory with 4GB of DDR3-1066 (not that the 32-bit edition of Vista provided can access it all - usable memory was closer to 3GB).

Battery life proved middling too. In our light-use test the TR87 survived for 4hrs 44mins, while heavy use cut that to an unexceptional 1hr 36mins.

One particular weak suit for the TR87 is its gaming performance. Its Intel GMA 4500MHD GPU isn't designed for serious 3D processing, and managed just 5fps in our low-detail Crysis test.

But the display's 1,366 x 768 resolution is ideal for 720p video content, and this the hardware can handle perfectly well. It's just a shame the colours aren't richer, since everything looks a little washed out and overcast. Considering the size of the speaker bar, sound quality is rather cardboard too, but is at least reasonably loud.

The keyboard is pretty solid, but gaps between keys are tiny, making it annoyingly easy to accidentally hit two keys. And although most of the important keys are nice and large, the cursor keys are annoyingly half-height.

If our impressions sound a bit back and forth, it's because the TR87 itself straddles the line. By most important measures it's neither great nor awful. If its sci-fi looks appeal, there's no killer reason to steer clear - so long as you don't demand 3D gaming. But for most of us, something cheaper or more capable will be a better fit.

Details

Price ex VAT £522
Price inc VAT £600
Overall rating 4
Features & Design 4
Value for Money 4
Performance 4

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 379 x 254 x 43mm (WDH)
Weight 2.590kg
Travelling weight 3.0kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core 2 Duo T6500
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 15.6in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
Graphics chipset Intel GMA 4500MHD
Graphics card RAM 64MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 320GB
Hard disk usable capacity 298GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Seagate Momentus 5400.5
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Optical drive Matshita UJ867AS
Battery capacity 4,400mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support no
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Bluetooth support no

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch yes
Wireless key-combination switch no
Modem yes
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 4
eSATA ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader yes
MMC (multimedia card) reader yes
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader yes
Pointing device type Touchpad
Audio chipset VIA HD Audio
Speaker location Front edge
Hardware volume control? yes
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 4hr 44min
Battery life, heavy use 1hr 36min
Overall application benchmark score 0.99
3D performance (crysis) low settings 5fps
3D performance setting Low

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit
OS family Windows Vista
Recovery method Recovery partition, burn own recovery discs
Software supplied Microsoft Works 9 SE