Packard Bell has long been a popular consumer brand and its range has grown since its acquisition by Acer in 2008. The EasyNote TM86-GN-005UK is a stylish, high-powered portable and has been designed with the modern internet user fully in mind.

The sleek, custom-designed chassis looks great. Combining glossy black and patterned silver plastics, it provides an eye-catching yet understated style. Impressive build quality is shown throughout and the laptop feels far more luxurious than its low price would suggest.

Weighing 2.5kg and with a depth of just 35mm, it's surprisingly slim. It adds little bulk to hand luggage and its curved edges make it very comfortable to carry. Battery life, at 242-minutes, also betters most similar laptops.

Raised keyboard

The user interface borrows heavily from Acer's range, with the keyboard featuring widely spaced keys raised high above the chassis' surface. Usability is excellent, but the wide spacing means dust can quickly and easily accumulate below the board.

A unique feature of this machine is its dedicated Social Networking key. Placed at the top-right of the keyboard, it activates a proprietary application that lets you access Facebook, YouTube and Flickr, all from within one window. It is a simple touch that works extremely well.

Ample performance is provided by Intel Core i3 processor technology. Hugely outperforming its Core 2 Duo rivals, this is one of the most powerful laptops you can buy at this price, with home office and media editing software running consistently quickly and smoothly.

While there's no dedicated graphics card, there is plenty of power on offer for multimedia use. High-definition (HD) video is handled with ease and you can even enjoy basic gaming.

This level of ability is matched perfectly by the vibrant screen. Striking colours, strong contrast and deep black levels are provided and image quality is excellent. The glossy coating is inevitably reflective, but an HDMI port lets you easily connect to an external HDTV if you prefer.

Rounding out the impressive features, high-speed connectivity comes courtesy of 802.11n Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet. A great software package is also provided, with such tools as Adobe Photoshop Elements and Microsoft Works for photo editing and basic home office use.

Such a high-powered and well-specified laptop is something of a rarity at this price, but the EasyNote TM86-GN-005UK manages it effortlessly. It has clearly been designed for family use and we're truly blown away by the result.