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Deciding upon a laptop was a very difficult task. There are so many different ones to choose from and it seems that you can never find one which has everything you require. As money was no object i.e it was a birthday present, I chose this laptop (Packard Bell Easy One Silver 3210) based on the features and its appearance. At £1299 it is not the cheapest around but for all that it offers I believe it is worth it. Let me give you a list:
Intel celeron 1.2GHz 256Mb RAM 20Gb Hard drive 14.1" TFT screen DVD/CD-R drive Modem Battery Life 2.5hrs Colour - Silver Weight - 3.4kg Windows XP
Although I am not a very technical person, this laptop was very easy to set up due to the excellent step by step nature of the included manual. It was simply a case of installing information off cd's and registering the laptop with Packard Bell. When you first switch the laptop on, it boots up into a simple registration form, you can fill it in or skip it and do it later, it will then boot up to the WindowsXP desktop as it is pre installed for you. It has been set up for the novice in mind, on the desktop are shortcuts to tutorials about customising you desktop, hows to navigate through windows and a comprehensive "how to" manual.
Graphics - It comes with the powerful SiS 730 graphics chip integrated. This 8meg chipset is capable of playing most modern computer games but may struggle with some first person shooters such as Quake 3. The graphics card comes with its own software which is an easy utility for changing the gamma (colour)and contrast of the picture, TV option and general functions of the screen.
Display - The 14.1" TFT screen gives exceptional clarity. Combined with the SiS graphics chip, running it at higher resolutions makes this excellent for viewing DVD's and pictures. A resolution of 1024 by 768 pixels, 32bit and a refresh frequency of 70hertz seems to be the optimum viewing settings.
Sound-The laptops own speakers give quite poor performance, which is adequate for most applications but unsuitable for most music. However, if you use headphones the sound quality is surprisingly good. All aspects of sound can be tweaked within Windows XP. With a fairly noisey fan, if you choose to watch films or listen to music, I would recommend investing in some good head phones or speakers.
Included software-Software packages vary but this one came with Midtown Madness 2, MS Word 2000, MS Works 2002, Power DVD, Nortan Antivirus 2002, CD writing software and WindowsXP. WindowsXp is a very user friendly operating system and is a colourful version of previous versions of Windows. If you have used older versions of Windows, the transition to WindowsXP is easy. Midtown Madness 2 is a racing game by Microsoft, it is a good playable game but is not graphically demanding so plays very well on the laptop. MS Word and MS Works are useful spreadsheet and word processing programs that are very easy to use and are suitable for producing professional accounts and documents. Packard Bell have also provided a system recovery disk and CD which can be used to reset the laptop back to how it was when you first switched it on. If you have installed something or deleted something and the laptop starts to fail or crash, the provided disk will have you back on your feet in no time.
Ports provided-AC adapter, COM port, printer, TV out, modem, 2xUSB, keyboard and monitor.
Overall I have been very satisfied with the performance of the laptop and have had no problems at present (touch wood!). The main disadvantage is that it is quite noisy as a result of the fan. The problem that we have discovered with laptops is that there are big differences in price based on the name of the product, regardless of what specification is offered. If you are new to the computer sector than I would advise asking either at the shop or friends. If you have some knowledge about computers, I would suggest listing what things and specifications you want and then try to find the laptops that have these things. You may feel safe going with a brand that you have heard of before, but generally the componants inside are themselves branded so the name on the box becomes irrelevant.