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Packard Bell EasyNote TR87 review

Verdict

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

Review Date: 12 Oct 2009

Reviewed By: Sasha Muller

Price when reviewed: £522 (£600 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
4 stars out of 6

Features & Design
4 stars out of 6

Value for Money
4 stars out of 6

Performance
4 stars out of 6

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.

Author: Sasha Muller

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