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"We don't ask our designers to smoke grass and come up with crazy ideas," Packard Bell marketing director Hugues Gontier told us this afternoon. Moments later, the company unveiled an AMD-powered netbook running Windows Vista Home Premium.

Incredible, yes. But true. The new Packard Bell 'dot m' is an unusual 11.6-inch netbook, which will be released in two flavours: one with an Intel Atom CPU, 1GB of RAM and Windows XP, and one with a less-powerful AMD chip, but 2GB of RAM and Windows Vista.

One of the biggest problems we have with netbooks is small keyboards. The dot m's isn't full-size, but it's close, and reaches the edges of the chassis to make full use of the space available. When fingering it, CNET UK's hater of all netbooks -- better known as Nate Lanxon, or yours truly -- even admitted "It's not bad," which is as close to a compliment as you're ever going to hear.

The trackpad supports multitouch gestures, too -- something Packard Bell VP Emmanuel Fromont told us with a grin are "a bit like the famous iPhone". No shizzle, Sherlizzle.

Other features include a 160GB hard drive, an optional 3G card slot (PB is "discussing" deals with UK mobile phone operators), Wi-Fi, a webcam, a true 16:9 aspect ratio display and a five-in-one card reader. It'll also come with a full version of Adobe Photoshop Elements 6, which is a pretty decent deal, considering it's a £50 snag on its own.

It'll be on sale in June from £349, by which time we hope to have a full review for you. More photos over the page until then.

Keys are large and comfortable to type on. For once.
The trackpad. Also notice the pockmarked finish on the chassis.
Eek! Gloss! No outdoor summer computing for you, netbook customer.
Ports along the right-hand side.
Closed up.


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