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Hands on: Packard Bell EasyNote Butterfly Touch Edition

It's a netbook, and a full PC, and a tablet...

Claiming full PC performance in a touchscreen-enabled ultraportable chassis, Packard Bell has been touting its Packard Bell EasyNote Butterfly Touch Edition laptop since December 2009. Trouble is, getting hold of one has been almost impossible. PC Advisor enjoyed some hands on time with the EasyNote Butterfly Touch Edition this week at the Gadget Show Live in Birmingham. We liked what we saw.

The Packard Bell EasyNote Butterfly Touch Edition is well specified, boasting a dual-core Intel ultra low voltage processor, up to 640MB of hard disk space and - in the model we viewed - 4GB of RAM. It has a high definition webcam and touchscreen. The latter is a 720p, 11.6in screen with multi-touch input. Even under the unforgiving lights of the NEC is was bright and clear, and the touchscreen responsive.

The screen pivots and swivels on a single hinge in the middle of its base, meaning the EasyNote Butterfly Touch Edition converts into a tablet. Such conversations can be clunky, to say the least, but in the EasyNote is was a smooth and simple process, and the hinge feels like it could take a whack and come out fighting. The resulting 'tablet' is no slim and light iPad, but it remains sufficently chunk free to be a useful input device on the move, or even an e-reader - so long as your peepers can take the strain of the backlit screen.

Indeed, the EasyNote Butterfly Touch Edition is in general well designed. It has a full-sized keyboard with responsive keys, and even at 1.6kg it feels light in the hand (despite being literally nailed down to the display stand: truly, the EasyNote Butterfly Touch Edition is a scarse and precious commodity). The multi-gesture touchpad is responsive and intuitive.

The EasyNote Butterfly Touch Edition runs Windows 7 Home Premium. It has an HDMI port, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and a 5-in-1 card reader. Packard Bell bundles a full version of Adobe Photoshop Elements, and a native backup application. (Generally speaking we can take or leave additions such as the latter, but we gave it a quick try and as backup applications go, it is pretty straightforward to use. Yawn.)

Packard Bell claims an in-use battery life of eight hours for the EasyNote Butterfly Touch Edition. We'd take this with a pinch of salt, although the ULV chip will help. It retails for £499, and we'll post a full review just as soon as we can get our sweaty mitts on a review sample.

Packard Bell EasyNote Butterfly Touch Edition

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