The Packard Bell Easy Note BG45-U-300 is the nearest thing to a regular laptop in the budget mini laptop category.

It has a larger 12.1in display and an impressively solid metal-skinned case. The down side to these features is that the Packard Bell Easy Note BG45-U-300 tips the scales at 1.6kg.

On the outside of the Packard Bell Easy Note BG45-U-300 there is an unusual black rubber coating, making it easy to grip. The main deck has an attractive finish in brushed black anodised aluminium, although this is something of a fingerprint magnet.

The Packard Bell Easy Note BG45-U-300 has a stylish trackpad and mouse button arrangement, consisting of a 50mm-diameter circular touch area and buttons hidden below the metal plate. These can be depressed by bending the case edge – a system that works surprisingly well.

It may be distractingly glossy, but the Packard Bell Easy Note BG45-U-300's high-resolution screen proved impressive, with excellent contrast and brightness.

Sound quality is reasonable, resonating from stereo speakers mounted below the Packard Bell Easy Note BG45-U-300's palm rest.

The Packard Bell Easy Note BG45-U-300 is also the fastest low-cost, ultraportable we've seen, sporting a 1.86GHz Core 2 Duo processor that earned it 51 points in our WorldBench 6 benchmark.

This makes the Packard Bell Easy Note BG45-U-300 capable of running the Vista Basic OS it ships with, although we'd recommend upgrading the 1GB allocation of RAM.

The Packard Bell Easy Note BG45-U-300's biggest disappointment is the clearly audible internal fan.

OUR VERDICT

The Packard Bell Easy Note BG45-U-300 is a smart and superbly finished laptop that justifies the expense. Fast and sleek, it's up to desktop-level challenges yet can be lugged around easily.