The Dot S sports a 10.1-inch screen with a resolution of 1,024x600 pixels. This is the minimum we'd expect from a netbook. We'd have liked to have seen Packard Bell slap in a higher res to allow more of a web page to fill the screen. As it is, you're going to have to put up with a lot of scrolling down.
Thankfully the screen is quite bright so it will cope reasonably well under bright sunlight. It will do the job of showing your documents, photos and a spot of video adequately.
The Dot S uses an Intel Atom N570 dual-core processor running at 1.66GHz, backed up by 1GB of RAM. That's not that powerful. But then again, netbooks aren't. If you're after heavy-duty computing on the go, then check out thebut be prepared to shell out considerably more money.
We ran the Geekbench benchmark test and the Dot S received a score of 1,297, which isn't too bad. With general office tasks, we found operation was fairly swift, making work on the go that bit easier.
If you're a heavy web user you might not find performance to be quite so good; the 1GB of RAM means that multi-tasking isn't this machine's forte. If you've got numerous tabs open on your browser then you can expect it to slow down, especially if you're running Spotify and other programs in the background.
It comes pre-installed with a copy of Adobe Photoshop Elements, which is a nice touch, if a little ambitious. The machine is powerful enough to cope with resizing holiday snaps but if you ask it to do anything more intense -- such as dealing with raw files -- it's not going to be happy with you.
We ran the 3DMark06 test to see how well it coped with 3D graphics and were shown a score of 160, so you can forget about playing any games more demanding than Solitaire (and it may not appreciate that too much either). Still, netbooks really aren't designed for games so we can't hold that against it.
When we ran our battery test, the Dot S managed to hold out for around 4 hours 25 minutes. That is an excellent time. The test is hugely demanding and runs the processor at a constant 100 per cent until the machine conks out so you can easily get a lot more time with more cautious usage.
It's all about working sensibly -- if all you need is word processing and you make sure to put the computer to sleep between uses, you can easily make the machine last all day, or longer. If you make a habit of connecting to wireless networks and streaming a lot of high-quality video, you're not going to get such a great performance.
In general, the Packard Bell Dot S offers decent power by netbook standards. It does so with a touch of style not offered by many of the dreary, dull alternatives out there. It may not have a great screen resolution, and we wouldn't trust the lid to hold up to a beating, but if you're after a fresh-looking machine for work on the go, the Dot S is definitely worth considering.