The Packard Bell dot s is a netbook with the fastest Intel Atom processor now available.

Packard Bell has relaunched itself, now under the wing of Acer, and for the first time has brought two netbook models to the UK. The Packard Bell dot s is the more conventional of the two (the dot m is an AMD-fuelled 11in model running - or rather walking - Windows Vista).

On the surface there's little to distinguish the Packard Bell dot s from the slew of other netbooks on the market today. However, a few small details are worthy of mention. As with the Asus Eee PC 1005HA Seashell, it takes the fastest Intel Atom currently available; the N280. This runs at 1.66GHz rather than the more standard 1.6GHz. Perhaps more usefully it has a 667MHz rather than a 533MHz frontside bus.

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The Packard Bell dot s gained 38 points in PC WorldBench 6 performance tests - joining the Asus and Acer models for joint first in the speed stakes. But with only one or three points to separate it from the herd, don't expect too many acrobatics here still.

More usefully, the review model Packard Bell dot s provided by PC World comes with a six-cell battery: the result was that the dot s can run for 6 hours 14 minutes in our MobileMark Productivity test. The battery stands well clear of the back of the netbook, but PB has thoughtfully exploited this extension to support the dot s when sat on a desk, making it impossible to tip backwards.

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So how else do you get your netbook noticed when your software and hardware suppliers are limiting innovation? PB is playing the colour card, finishing its Packard Bell dot s in a racy satin metallic red with high-gloss red lid. The keyboard, while not the best on test in its action, is quite stylish in its Futura Light font for key tops. But somehow, despite using the same 17mm key pitch as the MSI Wind's, it feels more cramped overall.

The trackpad is also just about the smallest we've seen at only 48mm across. Its click buttons are smooth-acting though, below a hinged chrome-finish bar. If you need built-in Bluetooth, make sure you find a version with it ready fitted.

NEXT: our expert verdict >>

Packard Bell dot s: Specs

  • 1.66GHz Intel Atom N280
  • 10.1in (1024x600) 16:10 gloss LCD screen
  • Windows XP Home SP3
  • 160GB 2.5in 5400rpm SATA HDD
  • 1GB DDR2 RAM
  • intel GMA 950
  • VGA
  • 100Mb/s ethernet
  • 3x USB
  • mic, h/phone
  • stereo speakers
  • SD card + multi
  • 802.11b/gp
  • 0.3Mp webcam
  • 259x184x26mm
  • 1.2kg
  • 1.66GHz Intel Atom N280
  • 10.1in (1024x600) 16:10 gloss LCD screen
  • Windows XP Home SP3
  • 160GB 2.5in 5400rpm SATA HDD
  • 1GB DDR2 RAM
  • intel GMA 950
  • VGA
  • 100Mb/s ethernet
  • 3x USB
  • mic, h/phone
  • stereo speakers
  • SD card + multi
  • 802.11b/gp
  • 0.3Mp webcam
  • 259x184x26mm
  • 1.2kg

OUR VERDICT

Some wireless options are lacking, and the Packard Bell dot s feels smaller than other 10in netbooks, but the price is competitive when set against some other netbooks with long-life credentials. And don’t forget the red colour option if you want to stand out too.

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