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Laptops Reviews
15,670 Reviews

Packard Bell dot m/a review

£379 inc VAT

Manufacturer: Packard Bell

Our Rating: We rate this 4 out of 5

Bigger than your regular netbook, the Packard Bell dot m/a offers AMD processors and an 11.6in screen.

Bigger than your regular netbook, the Packard Bell dot m/a offers AMD processors and an 11.6in screen.

Do you enjoy attracting attention to yourself? Or maybe ‘simply choose an energetic life'? If so, Packard Bell's marketing department would like to interest you in the dot m/a, the all-lower-case monikered new netbook with 11.6in screen.

Since all netbooks are essentially the same these days, Packard Bell is playing the colour card, making the Packard Bell dot m/a available in black (‘the everlasting colour of elegance') or red and black for the aforementioned attention seekers.

Except, this time, there's more than just a scarlet paint job to make the Packard Bell dot m/a stand out from the crowd. Aside from the 10in-busting screen size, which ultimately makes for a chassis wide enough to accomodate a lovely typable keyboard, this netbook uses central and graphics processors from AMD. And its even brave enough to take Windows Vista for an operating system.

The screen is a glossy mirror, but the high 1366x768 resolution gives plenty of detail if your eyesight can stand the small writing.

It's business as usual for the rest of the spec: the Packard Bell dot m/a has three USB ports, a slot wide enough for SD, xD and Sony memory cards, a 160GB hard drive, analogue-only VGA video output, ‘fast' 100Mb/s ethernet, and a pair of audio in/out jacks.

Read more reviews at Laptop Advisor

There's little information available from AMD about the Athlon L110 processor used in the Packard Bell dot m/a. What we can say is that it's a single-core CPU clocked at 1.2GHz, with 512kB L2 cache, and has a thermal design power (TDP) of 13W - around five times that of an Intel Atom, for instance.

In overall speed, the processor is comparable to an Intel Atom. The Packard Bell dot m/a scored 34 points in WorldBench 6, hampered by the slowest OS available and an underwhelming RAM quota.

Packard Bell UK was unable to provide a local sample of this netbook, so instead lent us an Italian model with little in the way of memory. Drop in a useful amount of RAM such as the 2GB specified for UK models, and the Packard Bell dot m/a would probably show a cleaner pair of heels to an Intel Atom netbook.

With the ATI graphics processor, gameplay is feasible if not exactly a compelling experience. We saw 2 frames per second in our standard FEAR game test, rising to 44fps after quality settings had been knocked right back to ‘Low'.

To give the Packard Bell dot m/a a fighting chance of lasting long enough for a two-hour round commute, Packard Bell includes a large six-cell battery that stretches out the back of the Packard Bell dot m/a.

We measured just over four and a quarter hours (259 minutes) in MobileMark 2007 Productivity tests. While this isn't terrible, it is less than half that found on Samsung netbooks, for example, which take the same capacity of power pack.

NEXT PAGE: Our expert verdict >>

Packard Bell dot m/a Expert Verdict »

1.2GHz AMD Athlon L110
512kB L2 cache
11.6in (1366x768) 16:9 glossy LED-backlit LCD display
Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium SP1
160GB 5400rpm 2.5in SATA HDD
1GB DDR2-667 RAM
ATI Radeon X1270 graphics
VGA
3 x USB 2.0
100Mb/s ethernet
802.11a/b/g
multi-card reader
mic in, headphone out
stereo speakers
built-in mic
webcam
6-cell 57Wh Li-ion battery
288x199x25mm
1498g
  • Build Quality: We give this item 8 of 10 for build quality
  • Features: We give this item 8 of 10 for features
  • Value for Money: We give this item 7 of 10 for value for money
  • Overall: We give this item 8 of 10 overall

Breaking away from the pack, the Packard Bell dot m/a has a bigger screen and a potentially faster processor, not to mention a graphics chip that can handle simple games if you drop the quality settings. A generous battery pack is always welcome, although actual runtime is reduced here by the inefficient processors, when compared to an Intel chipset.

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