Packard Bell – EasyNote LM review

budget desktop replacement with Core i3 processor
Photo of Packard Bell – EasyNote LM

While netbooks are taking care of those after small, cheap laptops, the budget desktop replacement market continues to thrive and there’s no shortage of models to choose from. Although now owned by Acer, the Packard Bell brand is alive and well, and the 17.3-inch EasyNote LM is the latest model to arrive off the production line.

In terms of looks, the EasyNote LM certainly isn’t anything special. It has a rather attractive mirrored bar stretching along the top of the keyboard, but there’s little else to excite the eyes. Still, this is a budget desktop replacement, so we’d much rather Packard Bell spent money on the components instead of aesthetics.

The 17.3-inch display has a native resolution of 1600 x 900 pixels. Many people will argue anything bigger than a 15-inch display should have a 1920 x 1080-pixel resolution; this would not only allow Full HD video to be viewed, but also to provide more desktop space on which to work. Resolution issues aside, the display performs well; it’s bright, vivid and great for watching movies on.

Given this is a desktop replacement, it’s a shame Packard Bell couldn’t find room for at least four USB ports. Instead you have to make do with three; two on the right side, one of the left. Other ports include HDMI, VGA, LAN and a multi-format memory card reader. A DVD writer sits on the right side, but there’s no ExpressCard slot, which is a surprise considering the space available.

There’s plenty of storage space available thanks to the 320GB hard drive, which spins at 5,400rpm. And although Bluetooth is missing, you do get 802.11n wireless and Gigabit Ethernet.

The EasyNote LM features a low-profile keyboard, and Packard Bell’s had no problem fitting in a numeric keypad alongside it. As with most low-profile keyboards, the keys don’t have much travel to them; whether this is a problem depends on your typing style.

The touchpad blends into the wrist rest, with a pair of raised vertical ridges telling you where it starts and stops. The left and right buttons below it feel a little soft when depressed and, taking the form of a single rocker-bar, if you press on the buttons too close to the centre they won’t respond.

Intel’s Core i3-330M processor is a favourite with manufacturers looking to offer reasonable performance while keeping the price down. It features two cores running at 2.13GHz and Packard Bell has supplied it with 3GB of memory. If you want to upgrade to 4GB (or even 8GB, which is the maximum the EasyNote can take), simply unscrew the plate on the rear and the two memory slots are easily accessed.

Games fans will be sorely disappointed with the EasyNote LM’s 3D performance. The Core i3 processor features its own built-in graphics in the form of Intel’s GMA HD, but it’s really not up to much. As always, those interested in playing games should look for a laptop with a discrete ATI or Nvidia graphics card.

Battery life is never a huge concern when it comes to desktop replacements, not least because they’re simply too heavy to lug around away from the mains. Indeed, weighing in at 3.3kg, the EasyNote LM is more likely to stay permanently attached to its power adapter. Still, if you do fancy taking it on a road trip, the 48Wh battery will keep the lights on for around two hours if you go easy on it. However, start running processor-intensive applications and this will drop to dangerously close to the one-hour mark.

Company: Packard Bell

Contact: 0871 760 1019

Budget desktop replacements rarely set hearts racing, and the EasyNote LM from Packard Bell is no different. That said, it's a solid laptop and the Core i3 processor will cope perfectly well as long as you don't demand too much from it. If possible, we'd recommend you try out the keyboard before you buy, as it won't be everyone's cup of tea.