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Packard Bell Dot S review: Packard Bell Dot S

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The Good Excellent battery life; Fair power by netbook standards; attractive design.

The Bad Awkward keyboard; unimpressive screen resolution; Poor construction in places.

The Bottom Line The Packard Bell Dot S gives a fair performance by netbook standards but is sadly let down by an unimpressive screen and an awkward keyboard. A powerful battery will help you keep working all day though.

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7.5 Overall

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Netbooks are not the most powerful of computers you can carry around these days -- in fact, many smart phones pack more heat -- but they're still a clever choice for work on the go when a phone or tablet won't cut the mustard.

The Packard Bell Dot S comes equipped with a 1.66GHz dual-core Intel Atom N570 processor and 1GB of RAM.

It's available now for around £240.

Design and build quality

The Dot S may very well be seen as a slap in the face for the plethora of boring-looking netbooks around. Rather than opt for a miserable plain black lid, Packard Bell has slapped a rather attractive purple on top with a pattern reminiscent of wood grain.

Under the lid you'll find plenty of white plastic with the same wood-effect pattern showing its face on the wrist rest. The keys and screen surround are white too, so things appear somewhat clinical. If you're a nurse in a busy hospital wanting to bang out a few tweets, you'll fit right in with the Dot S -- just make sure you properly wash your hands before and after you use it.

Darker purple, white and black colour variations are available if you're particularly colour-minded.

Packard Bell Dot S colours
The Packard Bell Dot S comes in all the shades and colours under the sun, from purple to purple, black, white and purple.

The isolated keys are raised away from the base by quite a bit, which makes them feel rattly and fragile. Like all netbooks, there isn't much room for a keyboard so you may find you need to squash your hand in to type properly. There's barely any gap between each key, which makes differentiating between them at speed more awkward than we'd like.

The base of the Dot S feels pretty sturdy and doesn't offer much flex or creaking when we pressed down on it. The lid doesn't feel as good though. It's far too easily bent for our liking. We would expect a more robust feel from something designed for use on the move.

With a width of 259mm and a height of 31mm, it's about as portable as every single other netbook on offer -- it'll fit easily into a bag. It weighs 1.3kg, which again is what we'd expect from a netbook. It's not so heavy that you couldn't take it to the coffee shop, but not so light that it risks being blown off the table every time someone walks past.

Around the sides you'll find three USB 2.0 ports, which is generous enough, along with a VGA port, an Ethernet port and microphone and headphone jacks. There's an SD card reader too, which is great news for quickly dumping your embarrassing holiday snaps off your camera.

The trackpad is a very little thing and it's only distinguishable from the white plastic surround by being slightly indented. It's responsive so it's not unpleasant to use when you're browsing quickly through web pages. The buttons beneath it are fused at the middle to create one long button. So long as you make sure to touch it on the edges, rather then towards the middle, it's easy to click.

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