In the previous generation netbook race Acer’s entrants, such as the Acer Aspire One, sold like hotcakes. When the company purchased the Packard Bell brand, it reproduced its successful design under the new brand and called its effort the Dot S. Now Intel has released its new Pine Trail platform, we're looking at its successor, the Packard Bell Dot S2. But given it’s the practically the same basic chassis that Acer sells, why should you buy the Dot S2 over Acer's own model?
For one thing, PB totally spoils you when it comes to extras. First off you get a very attractive slip case, made from strong neoprene with Velcro fastening. It’s one of the better bundled netbook cases we've come across. Then there’s the innovative power supply. Not only is it conveniently built into the power socket, it also features an unusual rotating removable plug that will make the PSU fit in any orientation you prefer – genius!
Last but not least there's a device that looks a little like a memory stick with a cable plugged into it called XSync. Its main function is synchronisation between the Dot S2 and your main PC or laptop, though of course it’s compatible with any two computers you care to hook up to it. As soon as you insert the XSync dongle its software launches automatically, giving you the choice between 'Folder or Outlook Sync', or the ability to act as a 'PC Bridge' which allows you to copy files directly from one machine to the other. It’s a great inclusion for any netbook, which is after all likely to be a secondary computer, though some may find using webmail and the likes of Dropbox will achieve the same effect with far less fuss.
On to the Dot S2 itself, when closed it looks much like any other netbook. The subtle silver wave pattern on our white model’s glossy lid is attractive, though it fails to hide fingerprints, and the tapered edges make it look relatively slim. It will also be available in 'Cherry' Red and 'NightSky' Black.
Unfortunately the interior is less appealing than the previous Dot S, thanks mainly to the battery bulge around the hinges and the silver finish that clashes somewhat with the otherwise white machine. On the other hand the netbook does have a few stylish touches, such as the power button to the left of the hinge which features a blue-backlit spiral pattern.
Many will also appreciate the screen’s matte bezel, though the 1,024 x 600 display itself is unfortunately glossy. Mind you, it’s a fairly good example of its kind. It does suffer from the usual poor viewing angles and contrast shift, but aside from this it's very bright, colours are vivid, and text is sharp and readable
As with the Asus Eee PC 1005PE it's a shame you're stuck with a lower 'sub-HD resolution' for the screen. But if you're willing to spend a little more then the likes of the the SonyVAIO Mini W and the Dell Mini 10 - to name just a couple - are available with 1,366 x 768 screens. Moreover, while desirable, many may find the Dot S2's resolution more readable on a small display such as this.