Packard Bell EasyNote NS44-HR-033UK review
Packard Bell is developing a reputation for stylish laptops, and the NS44 continues this tradition. Its glossy white case has a subtle pattern on the lid that's carried over to the matt silver wrist-rest below the keyboard. Its beauty isn't just skin-deep though: underneath there's a new Intel Core i3-2310M processor running at 2.1GHz. Along with 3GB of RAM, the NS44 managed a score of 41 overall in our benchmarks.
This isn't as fast as some laptops we've seen recently, but it's still more than powerful enough to handle most office and internet tasks, such as web browsing or working with documents. In the single-threaded image-editing test it scored a decent 55, but multi-threaded applications such as video editing will start to slow it down, as demonstrated by scores of 38 and 39 in the video-editing and multitasking tests respectively.
The NS44's 14in screen is smaller than most general purpose laptops, but it still has the same 1,366x768 resolution. This means that you get the same number of pixels but in a smaller space, so i images appear sharper. However, the glossy finish combines with poor vertical viewing angles to make getting a decent image a pain: you'll have to adjust the screen's tilt carefully to avoid reflections and find the best compromise. Although the backlight is even, it isn't the brightest.
There's no room for a numberpad, so instead Packard Bell has included a column of shortcut keys to the right of the keyboard. The layout is fairly standard, but we didn't like the way the Enter and left Shift key are placed right next to their adjoining keys. Those used to a wider left Shift key will inevitably hit the backslash key a few times before they get used to this odd key placement.
The keys themselves have a light, crisp action that touch-typists will find comfortable to use. If you like using keyboard shortcuts, it's worth noting that the Function keys act as shortcuts, and you'll have to use the Fn modifier to access the normal F1-F12 functions. The touchpad is a bit on the small side, but has the same smooth surface as the rest of the wrist-rest, and we found it responsive. The single see-saw button has a light action.
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