Packard Bell EasyNote LM notebook

The EasyNote LM is a desktop replacement. Its large screen (17.3-inches, so not just a 17-incher, Packard Bell boasts) would dominate any desk, though it is not as heavy as you'd think at 3.3kg, certainly not so heavy that you'd need to anchor it to one place for ever.

Close the lid and the LM looks like a large sheet of shiny metal, set off by a Packard Bell logo at one side. Open it and you find that to move the lid most easily you need both hands, holding the base down with one as you lift the lid with the other. A minor thing, but the sort of detail Apple wouldn't let slip by, for instance.

Now then, how do you turn it on? The metal strip at the top of the white-out-of-black keyboard has a smaller strip at the right edge. Touch it and a blue light glows as Windows 7 Premium cranks into life. To the left of the blue glow, delicate lights show that the hard drive is doing its business and Wi-Fi is on.

The large screen looks impressive, with plenty of space for all the programs you'll want to launch. Around the keyboard, a black glossy frame is set off by a lower area that matches the lid, with an integrated trackpad. This has raised bars to show you the edges and usefully a smaller bar so you know just where to touch to scroll up and down - on most trackpads this is a trial-and-error affair. Beneath the trackpad, the mouse buttons appear as one long rocker strip, lacking the subtle pattern of the rest of the silvered area so it stands out. A little too much, you might say.

Because the screen is glossy, it suffers from the annoying problems faced by using a notebook on an office desk. Overhead office lighting, as you know, means you have to angle the screen to avoid reflections. All well and good, there'll be an angle that will work. But it may not be the one that works for using the webcam, say, whose chrome-ringed lens sits just above the display.

But the screen is certainly invitingly sharp and bright, and gets that HD tag at 1600 x 900 pixels, but not the whole Full HD hog, which some will complain about. You get the option of Nvidia or ATI dedicated graphics offering 512MB or 1GB of dedicated graphics power, so it is worth checking the specs before you part with your cash.

The keyboard is big, and even includes a number pad, which is great, but it's not especially comfortable, perhaps a little over-sprung. There's something a little weird at how off-centre the letter keys are because of the extra space the numbers demand on the right-hand side. The multi-touch trackpad is directly beneath the space bar and it's annoyingly easy to brush it as you type so the cursor jumps around crazily.

Oh yes, just under the power button there's an extra key on the keyboard! It's a smiley-faced fellow with two chums peeping out from behind and it signifies one of the series' USPs - a direct link to social networks. Press it and a window appears which will log you in to Facebook, YouTube and Flickr. It's not a big window but if you want something more discreet, one click and the cheery chaps icon appears again, with logos for the sites below. It's quite a neat gimmick, and other makers may copy it.

The LM comes with 3GB of RAM, and it skipped along nicely in our tests, thanks to its Intel Core i3-330M processor. Battery life was good, though not outstanding, managing 3.5 hours when not connected to the mains - not bad for such a big display. You'll find a 320GB hard drive in place as well as all the normal connectivity, including HDMI.

Verdict

The Packard Bell EasyNote LM is big, capable and not as heavy as it looks. It looks, well, you'll decide if you like the styling, but you can't say Packard Bell hasn't tried to catch your eye. And that large screen makes it hard to miss, even from a distance. But the clunky keyboard is a disappointment and the rest of the machine's performance is adequate but not exceptional.