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Packard Bell Dot S review

Kat Orphanides
30 Jul 2012
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
229
inc VAT

This netbook has the latest Atom processor and doesn’t cost much, but it’s not as stylish as some of its rivals

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It's easy to regard netbooks as being more or less interchangeable, given that their specification is limited by their very definition. However, with the increasing power of newer Atom processors and a refinement of designs to produce lighter, hardier and sleeker machines, the current generation of netbooks represents a significant improvement over its predecessors.

Packard Bell Dot S

The Packard Bell Dot S isn't much to look at, but at just under £230, no-one’s expecting an outstanding beauty. It's available in a range of colour schemes, too. The cheerful patterned white model we reviewed is attractive enough and is certainly a departure from the ubiquitous grey, black and silver colour schemes of most laptops. If it isn’t to your taste then other options are available, including black and purple. The Dot S is compact and well made, but its plastic chassis doesn't feel particular sturdy. We suppose this the price of having a light weight.

Packard Bell Dot S

Because it's so tiny, the Dot S's layout is a little cramped, but we were impressed by its full-sized keys, which make touch-typing considerably easier than it would otherwise be. The flat keys feel a little wobbly and don't give the best feedback when you're typing, but they're up to the job. There’s no numeric keypad, the spacebar is small and some keys have been crammed together, but it all works well overall, even though we did find ourselves mis-keying from time to time when typing quickly.

The function keys at the top of the keyboard control media and other features by default, so you'll have to use the (Fn) modifier to use them as Function keys. It's an unusual choice, but a sensible one. You’re much more likely to adjust your volume than press the F12 button in your favourite application. The touchpad is tiny, but responsive. It's centrally located on the wrist rest, though, so we didn't find ourselves brushing it by accident.

Packard Bell Dot S

The 10.1in display has a resolution of 1,024x600, which is standard for a netbook. Only a few have larger screens or higher resolutions. Obviously, everything feels a little cramped if you're used to a 1,920x1,080 monitor, but it's big enough to work on word processor documents comfortably, although we spent longer than we'd like scrolling around large spreadsheets. The screen has a semi-gloss finish that makes it appear bright without being too reflective. Colours are generally accurate, although some dark tones tend to blend in to one another indistinguishably.