Packard Bell Easynote C3 laptop

Can you really get a notebook for under £600? We put the Packard Bell C3 through its paces. When it comes to choosing the right notebook, it seems that the old saying ‘you get what you pay for' can still be justified. If you want a notebook to match your old desktop, you'll need to spend up to £1000. However, there are an increasing number of manufacturers who are creating machines for the seriously strapped of cash.

One such notebook is the Packard Bell EasyNote C3, which at £599 represents serious value for money. The look and feel of the notebook is satisfactory. It comes with a 15-inch screen and no corners have been cut on the viewing quality, as it's clear and bright. Furthermore, the keyboard is strong and robust, making it a pleasure to use. Overall, on the feel factor, the C3 manages to score highly.

So what's the catch? Using the system is another matter. We are all aware that Intel dominates the world of computer processors. So much so that many people are wary of opting for any less. However, there is an alternative out there in the form of AMD. The company's chips are inexpensive in comparison, hence the use of the AMD Athlon XP-M 2200+ in the C3, but that shouldn't put you off as such chips are just as powerful as anything Intel has to offer. With a clock speed of 2.6GHz, it's fast enough for word processing and surfing the Internet.

Where such chips fall down, is that they tend to be more power hungry than many of Intel's processors. We managed to get just over an hour of life out of the C3 before the battery died.

At this price point don't expect anything but the bare necessities. The 256MB of memory fitted in the C3 is the very minimum you'll find in any new notebook and once Windows has loaded it leaves very little in the way of headroom for having more than one window open at a time. If you have the money, then splash out on an upgrade to 512MB and you'll see a vast improvement. The 40GB hard drive is average for the price. With no wireless networking installed it's left to the Ethernet and modem ports to offer connection to the outside world.

What's more, with an integrated graphics solution, in the form of the SiS 740 chipset, any form of 3D computer is off the menu, as the system simply won't even consider running anything more modern than a game running DirectX 7.

Verdict

With so little on the performance stakes going for the C3 it is hard to see who will make the most of this notebook. If you need a notebook for the most basic of functions and are willing to ignore the odd quirk, the EasyNote C3 is a bargain notebook.