While not a bad machine by any stretch, we weren't overly impressed with the last Packard Bell (PB) machine we looked at, the Easynote TJ65-AU-010UK. Let's find out if the Acer subsidiary can convince us this time around with its higher-specced EasyNote TJ65-AU-031UK.
Physically this laptop is completely identical, as you would expect considering it's part of the same TJ65 series. That means you get the signature honey-comb pattern piano-black lid, which unfortunately loves fingerprints and dust just as much as most glossy laptops.
The prominent hinge, which is visible with the TJ65 open or closed, looks a bit cheap thanks to its silver paint job. It's a pity too, since otherwise this laptop is quite attractive once opened, combining a glossy touch-sensitive control area below the hinge with an isolation-style keyboard and a lovely soft matte finish for the palm-rest and touchpad. Build quality too is good overall.
Thankfully the red-backlit touch-controls work as well as before and there's a nice selection on hand, though as with all reflective surfaces regular cleaning will be required. Launch manager is one of the handiest additions, as it allows you to launch any application with a touch of the ‘button’ marked P. Also helpful for less savvy users is the Backup button, which gives access to PB's own MyBackup software. Next is a wireless 'switch', followed by a button that disables the touchpad and finally the inevitable volume controls.
Our one niggle here is that it would make far more sense to have the touchpad-disabling button located near the actual touchpad, as on Acer's own-brand machines such as the Aspire Timeline 4810T. However, it's not really a major issue as, thanks to its off-centre positioning, the touchpad never interferes with typing.
Speaking of typing, as with the previous TJ65 the keyboard is truly excellent. Layout is spot-on, including a full number-pad. There's a range of intelligent shortcuts, including brightness and duplicate volume controls on the cursor keys. Feedback for the broad, matt keys is also good, with the only exception being that the space-bar felt ever so slightly loose this time around.
Below this the multi-gesture touchpad is nicely delineated, and - as mentioned before - offers a lovely texture. Unfortunately we found it to be somewhat unresponsive though, requiring a very firm touch and occasionally suffering from lag. Since this wasn't an issue with the previous TJ65 we reviewed we're willing to classify it as a defect specific to our review sample, but if you do get the chance to test this before buying it's worth checking. At least feedback for the visually appealing transparent-and-chromed rocker switch beneath the touchpad is good.