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Packard Bell dot s2 review

Barry de la Rosa
4 Mar 2010
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Packard Bell dot s2
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
300
inc VAT

A beautifully designed, well-built netbook with an excellent keyboard, decent battery life and some useful extras.

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Specifications

10.1 in 1,024x600 display, 1.3kg, 1.66GHz Intel Atom N450, 1.00GB RAM, 250GB disk, Windows 7 Starter 32-bit

Packard Bell's dot s2 is a sleek, stylish netbook based on the new Intel Atom N450 processor. It currently comes in a choice of red or black, although our review sample is the upcoming white version. Despite its svelte profile, the dot s2 felt well-built, with little flex in the lid and a firm keyboard panel. It uses a number of different materials – with a glossy, patterned lid, a silver keyboard panel and a metallic front edge.

We were especially impressed by the hinge assembly, which did a good job of hiding the bulky 4400mAH battery but also let us tilt the lid back by around 160 degrees – making it great for use in cramped spaces, such as an airline seat. The power button and a wireless indicator are built into either end of the assembly. A battery life of eight hours in our light usage test is great, but not the best we've seen.

We were pleasantly surprised by the keyboard, which had good feedback and travel but quite a stiff action. The keys have flat tops and very little space between them, but they are large enough to prevent many errors, and we found the dot s2 comfortable to type on. While there are some compromises in the layout, we were happy to find a double-height Enter key and a large right Shift key, plus the Control key is in the proper position at the bottom-left corner.

The touchpad has a vertical scrolling area and supports multi-touch gestures (although you'd be hard pressed to use them in such a small space), but its single, see-saw button is stiff though and has little travel. It's set right on the edge of the case, so your thumb rests easily on it, but because it's so narrow, your thumb can actually brush the pad and cause the cursor to jump.

The screen is bright, with an even backlight, but has a blue cast that can make images feel cold. Vertical viewing angles are very tight, and the glossy screen coating reflects overhead lighting, so it's not ideal for an office environment. The integrated graphics chip isn't quite powerful enough to play HD content - even YouTube's 720p content is jerky - and games are out of the question.

The dot S2 comes with some useful extras. There's a full copy of Photoshop Elements 7 installed for touching up your snaps. Although an Atom processor isn't up to serious photo-editing, it's still a useful application for organising photos and making quick edits – such as getting rid of red-eye, boosting colours or cropping.

Also included is an Xsync dongle for easy file transfers. The software is already installed on the dot s2, so all you need to do is plug the dongle into the netbook, plug the other end into your PC, and you can instantly start transferring files or Outlook data between computers. As the dot s2 is likely to be a second computer for most people, bundling this simple tool is a stroke of genius.

It's these little extras that set the dot s2 apart from other netbooks, and combined with the comfortable keyboard, bright screen and excellent build quality, make it a compelling choice. Coupled with a decent eight-hour battery life, this makes the dot s2 great value.

Basic Specifications

Rating*****
ProcessorIntel Atom N450
Processor clock speed1.66GHz
Memory1.00GB
Memory slots1
Memory slots free0
Maximum memory2GB
Size25x258x185mm
Weight1.3kg
SoundRealtek High Definition Audio
Pointing devicetouchpad

Display

Viewable size10.1 in
Native resolution1,024x600
Graphics ProcessorIntel GMA 3150
Graphics/video portsVGA
Graphics Memory64MB

Storage

Total storage capacity250GB
Optical drive modelN/A
Optical drive typeN/A

Ports and Expansion

USB ports3
Bluetoothno
Wired network ports1x 10/100/1000
Wireless networking support802.11b/g
PC Card slotsnone
ModemNo
Supported memory cardsSD, MMC, Memory Stick Pro, xD
Other portsminijack audio output, minijack microphone input

Miscellaneous

Carrying caseYes
Operating systemWindows 7 Starter 32-bit
Operating system restore optionbackup and recovery software
Software includedAdobe Photoshop Elements 7, Microsoft Works 9

Buying Information

Warrantyone year RTB
Price£300
Detailswww.packardbell.co.uk
Supplierhttp://www.pcworld.co.uk

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