It's important to separate the model we're testing here from other machines that also carry the EasyNote TS name, notably the HR100, a hefty Intel Core i7 monster kicking about at the high end. T
he HR040 on test here opts for the much more reasonable Core i5-2410M, a cutting edge Sandy Bridge-class mobile processor running at 2.3GHz. This is, it's worth noting, exactly the same processor as the cheaper of the new 13-inch MacBook Pro models – which is quite the performer – and the Sony Vaio S.
Both, we'd like to note, smaller and lighter than this hulking monster of a machine, although there's something to be said for running an energy-saving CPU in a larger machine, especially considering the rate at which Intel's current generation runs. The difference between this and an i7 might be significant, but we didn't feel hard done by.
Predictably, given its price point, Packard Bell hasn't gone the whole hog and stuck a GeForce card inside the HR040; you're stuck with the (actually rather good) Intel HD Graphics 3000 chipset built in to the processor.
This pipes into a 16:9 15.6-inch LED LCD – slightly wider in form that your average 15-inch laptop screen, but absolutely perfect for watching TV or DVDs on thanks to its mainstream widescreen format.
Inside there is the usual cavalcade of mid-to-low-end features: a 500GB hard drive, certainly not an unreasonable capacity of storage, along with 4GB of DDR3 – less than the 6GB the Core i7 model goes for, but enough that you won't be noticing any significant system slowdown even at a high load.
There's a USB 3.0 port, HDMI out, a 1.3-megapixel webcam, and a DVD drive – not Blu-ray, sadly – to round things off.
Packard Bell's pack-in software is worth a mention; the full version of Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 comes bundled with every machine in the range, which is a really nice bonus, although the rest of the installed shovelware isn't worth much of a look.
The much-heralded social networking software, for which there is a specific hotkey on the keyboard, is frankly rubbish. It seems to be limited to Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, and nothing else, as if they were the only social networks in existence. Which they're not.
Alongside this is a selection of ad-supported games, such as Plants vs Zombies and Bejeweled 2, and a useful backup tool.