Packard Bell EasyNote TE11HC review

Packard Bell EasyNote TE11HC

Packard Bell, a subsidiary of Acer, is also known for its budget laptops, so it's no surprise that the EasyNote TE11HC is very affordable, priced at just £329. See also: Group test: what's the best budget laptop?

Build quality, for starters, isn't bad at all: there's very little give in the wrist-rest, the display is sturdy, and the base feels strong – it doesn't feel much weaker than the award-winning Dell Latitude machine. It looks reasonable, too, with a glossy black lid and metal-effect wrist-rest.

Get a little closer, though, and the Packard Bell's cost-cutting becomes clear. None of the three USB ports use the faster USB 3.0 standard, and there's little joy to be found in the keyboard: its flat buttons are light and don't have much travel, and we found them inconsistent, with some key presses even failing to register on-screen. The touchpad is the smallest in this group, and its two accompanying buttons don't have the light, positive clicking action we prefer – instead, they feel weak.

The Packard Bell also has this test's slowest specification. Our review sample came with an Intel Celeron B820 processor, and retail models have a slightly more powerful Pentium B960 chip – but, either way, there's not much power on offer here. Both parts are based on Sandy Bridge silicon, which is two generations behind Haswell, and neither have Turbo Boost capability.

Unsurprisingly, the Packard Bell was far down in our benchmark tables. The chip's overall PCMark 7 score of 1989 points is a long way behind the fifth-placed Acer, which scored 2413, and the EasyNote's Computation score of 6175 is especially poor: around one-third that of the table-topping Toshiba Satellite.

The Celeron in our sample shares its basic HD Graphics core with the Pentium part in retail models, and it's the weakest graphics chip in this test. Its 17fps result in the standard Stalker benchmark is four frames/second adrift at the bottom of our benchmark tables, and the pattern is repeated in other games. The Packard Bell's average of 25fps in DiRT 3's Low-quality test is seven frames/second behind the next-best machine and less than a third of the framerate of the rapid Asus X75VC. The EasyNote's paltry 9fps score in BioShock Infinite's easiest test is ten frames/second behind its nearest rival.

The rest of the specification failed to impress, too. The 500GB hard disk's sequential read and write scores of 72MB/sec and 59MB/sec are the slowest here, and the processor's peak temperature of 73°C is the second-highest in the group – only the Asus X75VC, with its significantly more powerful processor, got hotter.

Battery life wasn't great, either. The Packard Bell's 48Wh battery looks sizable on paper, but it lasted for 3 hours 26 minutes in our tests – the Dell, which has Haswell inside, lasted for almost twice as long.

The final major component, the screen, proved inconsistent during tests. It's no touchscreen, nor would we expect with this budget, but 1366 x 768 resolution is low, if all too common on cheap 15in laptops. The measured brightness level of 249cd/m2 is one of the group's highest, and its sRGB gamut coverage level of 83% is the joint-best here. Colour accuracy, too, is reasonably, with an average Delta E of 5.1.

The EasyNote's black level of 1.07cd/m2 was the poorest in the group, though, and resulted in a contrast ratio of just 232:1 – the worst here. The screen looks bright, but its lack of real depth means the panel lacks the definition we'd expec. This screen won't show games or films in their best light.

Go to the next page to read Cliff Joseph's review of this laptop from back in February 2013.

It’s a neatly designed 15.6-inch laptop, with a glossy black case and silver trim. Build quality is reassuring so we wouldn’t have any worries about carrying it around in a backpack, but it does weigh 2.4Kg and measures a rather chunky 36mm when closed.

Battery life is relatively modest, giving just over 3.5 hours of streaming video, although with Wi-Fi disabled, you should still be able to get some decent work done when you’re away from the mains.

The 1366x768 display is bright and sharp, and is good for watching video or browsing your photo collection. The glossy coating - as we always say - can be annoying when you see your own face staring back at you.

The speakers are also rather feeble even by laptop standards, producing little volume and poor bass. The touchpad’s a little small, but the keyboard is large and comfortable to use – although the space bar does rattle a bit when typing quickly.

This model is one of the cheapest in the EasyNote TE range yet it has a healthy 8GB of memory, and a 750GB hard disk that will provide plenty of room for storing music, photos and video.

The weak link in the chain is the dual-core 1.7GHz Celeron processor. This produced modest score of 1852 when running PCMark 7. That's plenty of power to edit documents and browse the web, but more demanding work tasks will likely take a lot longer than laptops equipped with Core i3 or i5 chips.

The Celeron lacks the Intel HD 4000 graphics used by current Ivy Bridge processors. Even at 1280x720 with low graphics settings, Stalker ran at around 15fps, which is to say jerky and unplayable.

We don’t want to be too harsh on the EasyNote TE, as it’s a perfectly functional laptop for basic computing work. However, compared to the Lenovo G580 which costs only a little more, the TE11HC isn't great value.

The EasyNote lacks the Lenovo's USB 3.0 ports, Bluetooth radio and its faster processor and graphics chip. The Packard Bell might have 2GB more RAM than the G580, but it's an unnecessary expense and doesn't boost performance.

Packard Bell EasyNote TE11HC: Specs

  • 1.7GHz Intel Celeron B820
  • Windows 8 64-bit
  • 6GB DDR3 memory
  • 500GB hard disk
  • 15.6in TFT LCD display with 1,366 x 768 resolution
  • Intel HD Graphics
  • DVD writer
  • 802.11b/g/n
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • HDMI/VGA
  • 3 x USB 2.0
  • Headphone and microphone socket
  • SD card reader
  • 48 Wh removable battery
  • 383 x 252 x 28mm
  • 2.5kg
  • 1.7GHz Intel Celeron B820
  • Windows 8 64-bit
  • 6GB DDR3 memory
  • 500GB hard disk
  • 15.6in TFT LCD display with 1,366 x 768 resolution
  • Intel HD Graphics
  • DVD writer
  • 802.11b/g/n
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • HDMI/VGA
  • 3 x USB 2.0
  • Headphone and microphone socket
  • SD card reader
  • 48 Wh removable battery
  • 383 x 252 x 28mm
  • 2.5kg

OUR VERDICT

The Packard Bell is a cheap machine and while that's great for the bank balance, making a laptop this affordable involves numerous compromises. It's a slow machine when running applications and games, battery life is average, and the screen can't match the best panels – and while build quality is reasonable, the keyboard disappoints. It's only worth buying if you need a budget machine for basic tasks.

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