Packard Bell dot u review

25 Aug 2010

A gorgeous little ultraportable for a fantastically low price. A petite stunner

Price when reviewed: 
450(£450 inc VAT)
5

An attractive, slimline ultraportable for just £382 exc VAT might seem too good to be true, but Packard Bell's latest update to its dot u model successfully manages just that - with a dash of panache.

Since Acer took over the reins at Packard Bell HQ, its range of portables has gone from strength to strength. And just as Audi sports car technology trickles into low-cost Skoda hatchbacks, you can see Packard Bell's dot u is a slimmed-down, sexed-up Acer Aspire 1810TZ.

At just 28mm thick, and weighing in at a modest 1.32kg, this is one seriously portable laptop. Despite trimming all that fat, Packard Bell has still managed to make the dot u feel surprisingly sturdy, with only a little bit of flex evident in the chic little chassis. Our only worry is the somewhat slender display hinges.

Packard Bell dot u - front

Minor concerns aside, it's a perfect ultraportable for slinging in a bag on the way to work or a lecture. And 6hrs 21mins of battery life is enough to last most of the working day. Ergonomics are impressive too. We weren't entirely enamoured with the bouncy feel of the identical-looking keyboard on Acer's Aspire 1810TZ, but the dot u improves on it, with a sensible layout and chunky, square keys.

The 11.6in display, meanwhile, is very good indeed. Great contrast and ample brightness are allied to neutral colour reproduction, and only the reflective, glossy finish and narrow vertical viewing angles give any room for improvement.

You'd half expect the tiny dot u to falter when it comes to performance, but it doesn't. The Intel Pentium U5400 inside is a cut-down version of Intel's Core i3 and i5 processors, and despite running at a mere 1.2GHz, it managed a solid 0.67 in our benchmarks.

Try as we might, there are few valid complaints that we can level at the Packard Bell dot u. It looks good (if you don't mind the rose-tinted finish) and its performance, stamina and ergonomics are all well up to par. It effortlessly earns a place on the A-list.

Details

Price ex VAT £383
Price inc VAT £450
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 6
Value for Money 6
Performance 4

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 285 x 201 x 28mm (WDH)
Weight 1.320kg
Travelling weight 1.5kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Pentium U5400
Motherboard chipset Intel HM55 Express
RAM capacity 3.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 11.6in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
Graphics chipset Intel HD graphics
Graphics card RAM N/A
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 250GB
Hard disk usable capacity 233GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Toshiba MK2555GSX
Optical disc technology N/A
Optical drive N/A
Battery capacity 4,400mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support no

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 3
FireWire ports 0
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 Realtek HD Audio
Speaker location Front edge
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 0.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 6hr 32min
Overall application benchmark score 0.67
Office application benchmark score 0.65
2D graphics application benchmark score 0.77
Encoding application benchmark score 0.65
Multitasking application benchmark score 0.62
3D performance (crysis) low settings N/A
3D performance setting N/A

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery partition
Software supplied Adobe Photoshop Elements 8