Packard Bell dot u review

Price when reviewed

An attractive, slimline ultraportable for just £382 exc VAT might seem too good to be true, but Packard Bell’s latest update to its dot u model successfully manages just that – with a dash of panache.

Since Acer took over the reins at Packard Bell HQ, its range of portables has gone from strength to strength. And just as Audi sports car technology trickles into low-cost Skoda hatchbacks, you can see Packard Bell’s dot u is a slimmed-down, sexed-up Acer Aspire 1810TZ.

At just 28mm thick, and weighing in at a modest 1.32kg, this is one seriously portable laptop. Despite trimming all that fat, Packard Bell has still managed to make the dot u feel surprisingly sturdy, with only a little bit of flex evident in the chic little chassis. Our only worry is the somewhat slender display hinges.

Packard Bell dot u - front

Minor concerns aside, it’s a perfect ultraportable for slinging in a bag on the way to work or a lecture. And 6hrs 21mins of battery life is enough to last most of the working day. Ergonomics are impressive too. We weren’t entirely enamoured with the bouncy feel of the identical-looking keyboard on Acer’s Aspire 1810TZ, but the dot u improves on it, with a sensible layout and chunky, square keys.

The 11.6in display, meanwhile, is very good indeed. Great contrast and ample brightness are allied to neutral colour reproduction, and only the reflective, glossy finish and narrow vertical viewing angles give any room for improvement.

You’d half expect the tiny dot u to falter when it comes to performance, but it doesn’t. The Intel Pentium U5400 inside is a cut-down version of Intel’s Core i3 and i5 processors, and despite running at a mere 1.2GHz, it managed a solid 0.67 in our benchmarks.

Try as we might, there are few valid complaints that we can level at the Packard Bell dot u. It looks good (if you don’t mind the rose-tinted finish) and its performance, stamina and ergonomics are all well up to par. It effortlessly earns a place on the A-list.


Warranty1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions285 x 201 x 28mm (WDH)
Travelling weight1.5kg

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Pentium U5400
Motherboard chipsetIntel HM55 Express
RAM capacity3.00GB
Memory typeDDR3
SODIMM sockets free0
SODIMM sockets total2

Screen and video

Screen size11.6in
Resolution screen horizontal1,366
Resolution screen vertical768
Resolution1366 x 768
Graphics chipsetIntel HD graphics
Graphics card RAMN/A
VGA (D-SUB) outputs1
HDMI outputs1
S-Video outputs0
DVI-I outputs0
DVI-D outputs0
DisplayPort outputs0


Hard disk usable capacity233GB
Spindle speed5,400RPM
Internal disk interfaceSATA/300
Hard diskToshiba MK2555GSX
Optical disc technologyN/A
Optical driveN/A
Battery capacity4,400mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT£0


Wired adapter speed1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a supportyes
802.11b supportyes
802.11g supportyes
802.11 draft-n supportyes
Integrated 3G adapterno
Bluetooth supportno

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switchno
Wireless key-combination switchyes
ExpressCard34 slots0
ExpressCard54 slots0
PC Card slots0
USB ports (downstream)3
FireWire ports0
PS/2 mouse portno
9-pin serial ports0
Parallel ports0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports0
3.5mm audio jacks2
SD card readeryes
Memory Stick readeryes
MMC (multimedia card) readeryes
Smart Media readerno
Compact Flash readerno
xD-card readeryes
Pointing device typeTouchpad
Audio chipsetRealtek HD Audio
Speaker locationFront edge
Hardware volume control?no
Integrated microphone?yes
Integrated webcam?yes
Camera megapixel rating0.3mp
Fingerprint readerno
Smartcard readerno
Carry caseno

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use6hr 32min
Overall application benchmark score0.67
Office application benchmark score0.65
2D graphics application benchmark score0.77
Encoding application benchmark score0.65
Multitasking application benchmark score0.62
3D performance (crysis) low settingsN/A
3D performance settingN/A

Operating system and software

Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS familyWindows 7
Recovery methodRecovery partition
Software suppliedAdobe Photoshop Elements 8

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