Thursday, September 27, 2012

Packard Bell EasyNote TV

Packard Bell Easynote TV (© Packard Bell EasyNote TV)
What is it?
The latest addition to PackBell's affordable EasyNote range.
What's great?
A good, basic laptop that costs just £399.
What's not?
Pentium processor provides only modest performance.
Bottom line
One of the better budget laptops we've seen this year.
We're not sure why Packard Bell called this the EasyNote TV, since it doesn't have a TV tuner built into it. Most of Packard Bell's laptops are called 'TS-this' or 'TX-that', so we reckon they just ran out of letters.
What is appealing, though, is the EasyNote's very reasonable price tag. It's not exactly state-of-the-art, but it provides a perfectly decent 15.6-inch screen and a respectable amount of horsepower for just £399.
Admittedly, the design of the EasyNote is rather old school. It's based around an Intel Pentium processor, which is something we haven't seen in a laptop for a year or two. It is, however, a relatively recent 2011 version of the Pentium, consisting of a dual-core chip running at a healthy 2.2GHz. It doesn't have the graphics horsepower to handle the latest 3D action games, but it'll be fine for a spot of Farmville on Facebook, as well as emailing, web surfing and a bit of wordprocessing.
The EasyNote TV also has 4GB of memory and a 500GB hard disk - which isn't massive, but should still be large enough to store a good assortment of music, photos and videos. There's a built-in DVD player and HDMI port for hooking it up to a high-def television, as well as a webcam and a slot for memory cards so that you can transfer photos from a digital camera.
Another feature that we haven't seen for a while is a removable battery pack. Many laptops require a bit of screwdriver action in order to get at the battery, while Apple positively forbids you from daring to open up any of its immaculate little toys. However, a simple flick of a switch pops the battery out of the EasyNote, making it easy to swap in a replacement if you need extra battery life on a long flight or train ride.
You probably won't need a spare battery, though. A low-cost laptop like this obviously won't match the 5-6 hours that you get from more expensive Ultrabooks, but it managed a respectable 3hrs 45mins when using the built-in wifi to stream video off the BBC iPlayer.
The EasyNote TV is also quite well built for such a low-cost machine. The plastic casing is sturdier than some of the other budget laptops we've seen recently, and the 15.6-inch screen produces a clear, sharp image. It could perhaps be a little brighter, but it's still perfectly fine for watching video or browsing through your photo library. The speakers are a bit tinny, but you can always plug in a set of headphones if you want to.
The only disadvantage is that the EasyNote TV weighs in at about 2.5Kg, so it's fairly hefty to carry around with you. Even so, that's still about average for a laptop with a 15.6-inch screen, and the EasyNote TV is a good choice for anyone that wants a basic laptop without spending a fortune.
Packard Bell EasyNote TV is rated at four out of five stars by MSN Tech & Gadgets (© Packard Bell Easynote TV Review)
Essential info
Screen: 15.6-inch, 1366x768 resolution
Processor: Processor: Intel Pentium B960 @ 2.2GHz
Memory: 4GB
Hard disk: 500GB
Weight: 2.5Kg
Also Consider:
Toshiba Satellite L750D-14E - an affordable laptop with a powerful quad-core processor, but only about 2.5hrs of battery.
Lenovo B570 - a bit more expensive, but with a more modern i5 processor and better graphics for games.

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