Take a quick shufti around the m/a's exterior and you will find much the netbook norm: three USB ports, VGA, 10/100Mb/s Ethernet, 3.5mm audio-in and -out sockets, and a Kensington lock slot. The five-in-one card reader allows you to slide SD cards in until nearly flush - a nice touch, as is the external Wi-Fi switch. The m/a also a below average 0.3Mp webcam and a built-in microphone.
The logo panel on the lid is handy for getting the machine open
The underside of the machine is home to three easily removable panels that cover the wireless card, a 3G module (if one was installed), the hard drive and the memory slot. It looks as though there's only one memory module, so 2GB is quite likely your lot.
Unlike the majority of netbooks, the dot m/a is available with a selection of HDD options. Our entry-level test machine came with a 160GB 5400rpm Sata drive, but Packard Bell will also sell you one with either a 250 or a 320GB drive. There is no SSD option.
The most basic m/a doesn't come with Bluetooth - standard on the 320GB machine. Wi-Fi connectivity is the usual 802.11b/g across the range. The display is a high gloss LED-backlit panel with a 16:9 resolution of 1366 x 768. It's bright, crisp, colourful and generally pleasant to look at.
Below the rather fine screen sits a rather fine keyboard - in fact, one of the best that we have encountered on a netbook. The flat-topped keys are not only a little larger than is usual on machines of this size but also have a generous amount of space between them which helps minimise typos. The key action is very positive if a little short and there is very little base flex.
A nice, large, responsive touchpad and button bar
The 65 x 37mm touchpad is both large enough and sufficiently responsive to provide a complaint-free user experience while also supporting pinch-to-zoom multi-touch. The one-piece chrome click bar below the pad has a firm action and can be used continuously for long periods of time without setting your teeth on edge. You can't really ask for more from a netbook.
Packard Bell for many a year put out so many underpowered laptops that they make Acer look high spec in comparison. PB as a name conjures up thoughts in my mind of some very poor quality kit and I wonder why Acer want to use the name.
@ cornz 1
my acer aspire 4720z running fedora core and xp on top of virtualbox is a gem. i'd call it the best value for money deal you can get.
1 year later, i see other greenhorns such as you, pay double for a big brand laptop with vista, and they still turn green at my old acer. and xp is needed for the odd occasion when a client insists on me connecting to their network from home using a windows machine or when i need to edit an office document that has lots of graphics and tables in it.
i take it, you are not aware of how to actually use / configure a computer.
Why no video acceleration?
The 690G has hardware acceleration for video decode, and works well in HTPCs. Is this capability missing from this model?
Damn! 2 months too late
This was pretty much the netbook I was looking for, but failed to find. I ended up paying 500 notes for a Dell Vostro 1220: nice, zippy enough, but just a bit heavier and bulkier than I really wanted.
I could've had one of these AND a better battery for a fair bit less.
The return of CrapHard Hell
I remember working for Dixons Mastercare PC service (Hangs head in shame, hence AC) back in '96.
Absolute, monumental, over-priced junk.
Hopefully, the new, Acer-flavoured kit will give them a better reputation.