Review: Packard Bell EasyNote Butterfly XS

Our score: 3/5
Reviewed: May 13, 2010 11:00 PM
2 want this Me too!
 
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Published: May 13, 2010 11:00 PM
By Fabien Pionneau
We tested a pre-series version of the Packard Bell Butterfly XS. The UK version does however have certain spec differences including the 1366 x 768 pixel screen (see inset). Crucially the CPU has been replaced with an Intel Celeron SU743, which is single core and far less powerful. We much prefer the SU4100 (used in the test model and faster than the SU743) and sincerely hope that Packard Bell will return to the original dual core.



The Butterfly XS gives "concentrated performance" according to Packard Bell. An economical ultra-portable, the XS rubs shoulders with high-end netbooks. A little larger, it includes a DVD burner and a dual-core processor!

Handling, design and build: matte plastics and good ease of use

Good news for those who like things to look clean, the Butterfly XS plastics are all matte, with the exception of the screen hood. We would nevertheless have liked a nicer, not so low-end a feel. Still, this machine seems robust, with the exception of the screen hinges which don't particularly inspire confidence. The plastic looks solid but there is some play and it could be better adjusted. The screen hood is covered in nice glossy red, which, again of course, gets grubby marvelously quickly.

Packard Bell EasyNote Butterfly XS Keyboard

The keyboard is nice and wide and takes up almost all the available space. The keys are also wide and flat (17 x 17 mm). This makes keying all the more comfortable and quiet. The only drawback is the reduced size of the "Ctrl" and "Alt" keys.

The touchpad is covered in a matte surface and the same plastic is used as on the chassis, which it sits into very well and you can only differentiate from this chassis by the strengthening and the absence of the raised dots that are on the rest of the wrist rest area. Fairly wide (75 x 40 mm), it corresponds nicely to the screen format and the glide is fluid and precise.
The left and right clicks are made of chrome and are separated.

Packard Bell EasyNote Butterfly XS webcamThe webcam is fine but suffers from a poorly set white balance (this is down to the automatic default image setting). The image tends towards yellow and there's an over-exposure of light areas. For the rest, contrast is good and the image fluid.

The Butterfly XS is quiet when processing office documents. During heavier work, the fan accelerates and becomes audible, without however becoming too annoying. It's a shame that the hard drive grates when you're loading applications and copies of files.

Connectivity is standard with 3 USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI, a VGA, an RJ45, a memory card reader, a headphones and a mic socket. Wi-fi is also included. The strong point on this model is its DVD burner. It's well built in and doesn't compromise the slim line of the machine. The button for opening the DVD drive is nicely placed on the chassis and not on the drive opening itself which means you won't open and close it by mistake.

Under the PC, 3 panels give acces to the RAM and hard drive, as well as the wireless card.

Packard Bell EasyNote Butterfly XS Packard Bell EasyNote Butterfly XS
Packard Bell EasyNote Butterfly XS from above

Memory card reader, DVD burner, USB 2.0, RJ45


Packard Bell EasyNote Butterfly XS Packard Bell EasyNote Butterfly XS
VGA, HDMI, 2 USB 2.0s, mic, headphones, antitheft

Touchpad and clicks


Processing: good for internet and office document usage
Windows 7 index: 3.2. Details: CPU 4.0 - Memory 4.9 - Graphics 3.2 - Gaming graphics 3.2 - Main hard drive 5.9.

With its dual-core low energy CPU, the Packard Bell EasyNote Butterfly XS is at ease with internet and office document work. The Intel Pentium Dual Core ULV SU4100 also allows you to carry out photo and video tasks, as long as you remain patient during the heaviest processing (video encoding and editing, photo work). Such tasks take on average twice as long as on our reference machine (100 on the index), the Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Xi3650 (equipped with an Intel Core 2 Duo T9400). This model scores 45 on our index, which is more than twice what you get on the average netbook.

In spite of the absence of a dedicated graphics card, the Butterfly XS can decode HD 1080p video (Blu-Ray equivalent). This task can be handled by the processor, although it is preferable to use the integrated Intel chipset's hardware acceleration. This is supported by certain video playback software such as PowerDVD or Media Player Classic HC and allows you to free up the processor.

3D gaming: old 3D titles or 2D games

The built-in graphics solution is largely insufficient for recent 3D titles. You'll have to make do with 2D games or old school 3D with limited graphics settings.
Audio: ok but still preferable with headphones

Placed at the front, the 2 small speakers give a sound with no bass, which was always going to be the case in view of the fact that this is an ultra-portable laptop. Although the sound lacks depth, it isn't too harsh and you may be able to make do with it when your headphones aren't to hand. The headphones out is very clean (no hiss). Of course, you should use it to get best results.

Mobility, battery life: on a par with good netbooks

With a small 6-cell 4400 mAh battery, the Butterfly XS gives 4h26 film playback (brightness at 100 Cd/m², Wi-Fi disactivated and headphones plugged in). A pretty good result that places it just slightly down on good netbooks, although all the latest models now give upwards of 6 hours. Check before purchase as certain models look as if they'll be receiving an upgrade to a 5600 mAh battery, which should improve battery life.

From the point of view of mobility, the Butterfly XS remains compact in spite of the DVD rewriter. At 1.5 kg, it compares reasonably with the average weight of netbooks. In contrast, the charger takes up space and will be a bit large for small bags.
3/5 Packard Bell EasyNote Butterfly XS DigitalVersus 2010-05-14 00:00:00

Pros

  • Higher performance than a netbook
  • Good battery life 4h26
  • Good ease of use wide keyboard, good touchpad
  • Quiet
  • DVD rewriter built in

Cons

  • A few details on the finish need reviewing
  • Glossy poor quality screen
  • Charger is oversized

Conclusion

For a few pounds more than a high-end netbook, the Packard Bell EasyNote Butterfly XS offers performance at a whole other level, without sacrificing battery life. Unfortunately, it is larger all the same and isn't as well-finished as it could be.

OUR SCORE 3/5
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