For those not in the know, Packard Bell is the consumer arm of the multi-national computer company, NEC. Their range of desktop and notebook PCs are sold direct to the public through PC World. As you would expect, the focus with the entire range is on the home user, who will want to use their notebook for a variety of functions and not one specific purpose.
The first thing to notice about the Easynote R5175 is that it has a widescreen display. Such 15.4-inch screens are becoming increasingly popular, especially if you want to watch DVD movies in their native 16:9 format. The screen doesn't compare to the X-black you'll find on any of the latest Sony notebooks but it proved sufficiently bright and clear. While the screen is impressive, it doesn't detract from the rest of the notebook, which looks the part and will certainly look good in any living room.
When it comes to performance, the Easynote R5175 ships with an Intel 1.7GHz Pentium M 735 Processor, which has more than enough power to run most applications. So whether you're running a DVD movie, or even editing one, then you won't find yourself running out of steam. Supported by 512MB of memory and fitted with a 60GB hard drive, the Easynote has no real surprises but we found that it ran smoothly.
Where the performance of the Easynote R5175 fell down was in the use of integrated graphics, which means that you won't be able to play any of the latest batch of 3D games available. This is a real shame and detracts from the EasyNote's appeal as a family machine.
Also less than impressive was the keyboard, which we found to need a heavy hand to make the most of. If family members only have emails and the occasional school project to write, then this won't prove problematic, as you'll soon grow accustomed to its quirks.
Notebooks with a larger screen size are often penalised by being heavy. So it was with the Easynote, which is ideal for carrying between rooms in the house but you wouldn't want to carry it around all day.
What such users will appreciate is the assortment of ports and connections that the Easynote R5175 offers, which are ideal if you have a family that wishes to connect a printer, digital camera or even a camcorder to their notebook. If you are thinking of connecting your digital peripherals up to the R5175, especially to edit them into DVD movies, you'll be able to make the most of the dual format DVD rewriter that is built-in as standard. Capable of supporting both DVD+RW as well as DVD-RW formats you won't need to worry whether it is compatible with family or friends DVD players. You can even hook the R5175 up to your TV or video recorder using the S-video port in order play your finished movies.
Pitched as a home-user machine, the Easynote R5175 offers a great deal for the money but the use of integrated graphics does detract from the all-round appeal of this notebook.