vacancies advertise contact news tip The Vault
facebook rss twitter

Review: Packard Bell EasyNote XS20 sub-1kg notebook

by Tarinder Sandhu on 1 February 2008, 08:37

Tags: EasyNote XS20, Packard Bell (TPE:2353), VIA Technologies (TPE:2388)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qalhw

Add to My Vault: x

Specifications and thoughts

Specification

Packard Bell EasyNote XS20-006
Processor VIA C7-M 1.2GHz
Motherboard Custom-designed VIA VX700
Memory 1,024MiB (2 x 512MiB) ADATA PC-4300 DDR2 SODIMMs
Hard disk(s) Seagate Lyrion 30GB, ATA, 1.8in, 3,600RPM, 2MiB cache
Graphics hardware VIA UniChrome Pro (AGP)
Display 7in XGA TFT - 800 x 480px native resolution
Optical drive None as standard
Audio VIA high-definition audio
Media card support 4-in-1 (SD, MMC, MemoryStick, xD)
Modem None as standard
Networking hardware Realtek 10/100 LAN
Realtek 802.11a/b/g WiFi
Bluetooth
Ports/sockets 2 x USB2.0, 1 x RJ45, DVI, audio, microphone, headphone
Operating system Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
Additional software Norton Internet Security (90-day), Skype, Roxio Creator 9, Google Picasa
Included warranty Packard Bell one-year collect-and-return (PC World)
Battery Four-cell 2,200mAh
Weight 933g with standard battery
Price £349.99, including VAT
Shipping Included in price
Other notables VGA webcam


Discussion

The guts of the sub-notebook are an all-VIA affair, as you would expect. The x86-compatible, IBM-built C7-M processor, an ultra-low-voltage model in this case, has a TDP of just 5W and should be powerful enough to run everyday tasks we mentioned in the introduction. We'll put this to the test a little later on.

The supporting chipset, VX700, integrates on-board graphics in the form of the AGP-based UniChrome IGP. Whilst there's no hardware-based acceleration of the new-fangled H.264 and VC-1 codecs, something that's now being integrated into a slew of desktop chipsets from AMD and NVIDIA, there's hardware support for MPEG-2, MPEG-4, and WMV-9 HD.

The chipset further integrates high-definition audio and, due to space constraints, only a couple of USB2.0 ports are utilised. There's no FireWire support, however.

We like the fact that video can be outputted via DVI to a larger monitor, given the relatively low resolution (800 x 480px) of the 7in TFT, though.

Packard Bell ships the EasyNote XS with Windows XP Home Edition and backs this up with 1GiB of DDR2 RAM, which, really, is the minimum amount for a stutter-free experience, we feel.

Networking is good for such a compact machine, with Bluetooth, 802.11g WiFi and 10/100 LAN all integrated. Speaking of size, the EasyNote XS measures a scant 230mm x 171mm x 29mm (w x d x h), and that footprint is such that it excludes the possibility of an integrated optical drive.

A related benefit of the diminutive size is a lack of weight. Shipping with a four-cell 2,200mAh battery that gives around three hours of usage from a full charge, our sample of the EasyNote XS weighed just 933g - even less than the quoted 950g - and thus making it a mobile warrior's dream. Compare this to the usual 2kg weight associated with a regular thin-and-light notebook.

The hard drive isn't the most spacious at only 30GB, given that USB sticks now are available in capacities up to 32GB, and this is one area that the XS loses out to larger laptops, at similar price-points, that ship with, say, 160GB drives as standard. The 1.8in drive only has a 3,600RPM rotational speed, and that's going to compromise performance.

The reference NanoBook shipped with a modular section, right next to the screen, that allowed for user-specified connectivity ranging from GPS to WiMAX. Packard Bell uses it to house a VGA webcam, rather than something more esoteric.