The Packard Bell Dot U markets itself as a netbook, although it has more in common with compact ultra-portable laptops such as the Dell M101z. Regardless, it's certainly built for use on the go, with a compact chassis and low-voltage components designed to prolong battery life.

We Liked

Packard bell dot u review: rear

The Dot U's chassis is one of the slimmest we've seen of late, its compact form perfect for slipping in a bag or case. It's also satisfyingly solid, with no weak spots that are prone to damage. At just 1.3kg, it's effortless to carry all day too.

Almost five hours of battery life mean you can spend plenty of time away from the mains, keeping you productive on the move. The Packard Bell Dot U's low-voltage Pentium processor offers decent office performance, with roughly double the power of a standard netbook.

The superbly sharp screen is perfect for working on intricate spreadsheets and other documents, and bright enough to counter the reflective coating. You also get a decent bundle of software, including a copy of Adobe Photoshop Elements 8.0.

Packard bell dot u review: keyboard

Finally, the well-designed keyboard is great considering the compact chassis it's laid across, and we found touch typing at speed no problem.

We Disliked

Although the Packard Bell Dot U's build quality impresses, the hinges are a little stiff and can stick at times. It's a minor complaint, but one that cheapens the design.

The compact chassis means there's little room for the touchpad, which is a little cramped. We also had to manually configure the sensitivity until it suited us.

There's also no room in the Packard Bell Dot U for an optical drive, so you'll have to carry an external drive if you want to watch DVDs on the move.

As with most machines this size, there's no room for a dedicated graphics card. This means that games and any heavy multimedia tasks are beyond the Packard Bell Dot U's capabilities.

Verdict

It may not strictly be a netbook, but the Packard Bell Dot U is a well-designed ultra-portable that's well suited to life on the road thanks to a slim, light chassis and decent battery life. Office performance is strong considering the size, and only by spending considerably more will you find a similarly portable machine with more power. A worthy purchase for regular commuters.

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