Packard Bell Dot VR46 review

Not strictly a netbook, but a usable and powerful CULV machine nonetheless

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For

  • Good battery life
  • Performance
  • Colourful screen
  • Software package

Against

  • Reflective screen coating
  • Integrated graphics

In recent months Packard Bell's netbook range has grown to comprise some of the best machines on the market. The uniquely designed Dot VR46 is its latest addition and, while its netbook status is questionable, it is a pleasing portable nevertheless.

The VR stands for Valentino Rossi and this machine has been designed with the Italian motorcycle racer's trademark logo on the lid. The garish, yet eye-catching, sun and moon pattern won't suit all tastes, but is sure to be a hit with MotoGP fans.

The glossy lid is surprisingly resilient to scuffs and scratches, making it tough enough for life on the move. The rest of the chassis is finished in equally strong matt-black plastics and build quality is fantastic.

All panels are rigid and fixed firmly in place, providing a high-quality feel. This level of quality is continued by the excellent keyboard.

Using the same design as most recent Packard Bell and Acer machines, all keys are large, well-spaced and raised above the chassis' surface. Long-term use is comfortable at all times.

The stunning 11.6-inch screen is no less impressive. Despite its glaringly glossy Super-TFT coating, brightness, colour and contrast are all fantastic, creating truly striking images.

An HDMI port lets you connect to an HDTV when back at home for the biggest picture possible.

While the Dot VR46 is marketed as a netbook, it is no such thing. With its use of an Intel Ultra-Low Voltage processor, 4096MB of memory and a 320GB hard drive it is in fact a CULV portable. Presumably Packard Bell is calling it a netbook purely for marketing purposes.

As a result, performance doubles that of most netbooks on the market. Frequent office use and basic multimedia tasks run speedily, with only complex multi-tasking noticeably slowing the machine down. The processor's low-voltage also lets the chassis stay cool at all times.

Excellent battery

Additionally, the low power requirements ensure that battery life is excellent. Packard Bell claims as much as eight hours of mobile use and during testing we found we were able to easily keep working for 454-minutes between charges.

The icing on the cake is the excellent software package included. Microsoft Works provides basic home offi ce tools, Norton Internet Security protects you when online and Adobe Photoshop Elements delivers photo editing abilities.

While the Valentino Rossi branding won't suit all tastes, underneath the Dot VR46 is a great little laptop and one that's very easy to recommend. Its specifi cation and price confirm that it's certainly not a netbook, but as a slim and light CULV portable, this is one of the best.

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