The Packard Bell EasyNote TJ74 immediately stands out. Beneath the shiny red patterned lid and a gleaming silver logo, we find an interior and keyboard finished almost entirely in white, save for the odd bit of silver trim. This gives the effect of making the laptop feel somewhat larger than it really is, while the keyboard is both easy to read and easy to type on. But we can’t help but feel this clean, bright look will soon become rather grubby without a fastidious cleaning regime.
Beneath the keyboard is a multi-gesture touchpad, also in white, above a single grey button which can be pressed at either end for left and right mouse-button clicks. The Packard Bell is well stocked with ports, featuring a total of four USB 2.0 as well as a multi-format memory card reader, in addition to the usual HDMI and VGA display ports, and audio sockets.
Physically, the EasyNote TJ74 fits somewhere in the middle of the group. Being a 15.6in model with a built-in DVD burner, it’s rather larger and heavier than either the MSI X600 or the 13.3in Toshiba Satellite T130. It’s actually the thickest laptop of the group although both the HP and Acer notebooks are noticeably heavier.
Where the remaining laptops have used an array of Intel processors, the EasyNote TJ74 is the only one here to be powered by AMD. The 2.0GHz Athlon II X2 M300 is a dual core chip, and offers plenty more power than you’ll get from either the MSI or the Toshiba, both of which use lowly single core CPUs. However, it doesn’t stack up quite so well against the dual-core Intel laptops – it’s score of 72 points in WorldBench 6 leaves obviously trailing them.
This AMD-based laptop unsurprisingly takes AMD gaphics, an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4200 processor with 256MB video memory. This gives quite a lot more graphics horsepower than the Intel GMA 4500M commonly found elsewhere, although the Acer’s Core i3 chip will beat the EasyNote TJ74 across the board, all without the need for an additional graphics chip.
Battery life is a little uninspiring. Surviving for 3.5 hours on Mobilemark 2007, it’s a lot better than the HP G61 – but also a fair bit behind most of the rest.
The Packard Bell TJ74 is a safe middle-of-the-road purchase with no major drawbacks. It doesn’t suffer from the compromises required of an ultra-slim design and it costs less than most of its competitors although its hardware is somewhat less impressive.