There hasn't really been a reason to upgrade in the past few years, particularly if you can't afford the high end. But the EasyNote TS, which comes in at a resolutely mid-range price, is proof that the line between laptop levels is blurring, and the overall level rocketing up. It's fast enough, it's classily designed, it feels solid and it behaves well.
Presentation is a real strong point here. The keyboard, while very slightly inconsistent, is reminiscent of much pricier machines, such as the Apple MacBook Pro. The trackpad, with its gesture control and multi-touch capabilities, does its job admirably without getting annoying. This is a well-designed package overall; the case is glossy and classy, and the whole thing is put together well.
But out of everything, we really liked the processor. Intel's Sandy Bridge range is a true example of next-gen chip design. It's blisteringly fast, handles graphics well and, in the case of the Core i5 on offer here, it runs coolly and efficiently. Let's not beat around the bush: this is a reason to upgrade on its own. The fact that this machine doesn't cost the earth is the icing on the cake.
Nothing is perfect; no matter how much we clenched our teeth and scrunched our eyes up and wished really hard. The on-chip Intel HD Graphics 3000 didn't reach past the level of a two-generations old discrete graphics card. That's way ahead of integrated graphics chipsets of the past, but it's not quite a world-beater.
And the screen. The poor, poor, low-cost widescreen panel, with its non-existent perfect viewing angle. We just want to give it a cuddle.
This is a great machine at a great price. The Sandy Bridge processor inside is astonishing, the case is built well with an excellent full-size keyboard, and if you can forgive a few cut corners, this is an ideal non-gaming laptop.