Note: the LS44-HR exists in various versions. Some run on the Intel Core i5-2410M (more powerful than the version tested here), others have the AMD HD 6650M graphics card (mid-range card which would raise the LS44-HR's gaming rating to three stars) and still others come with storage space of 640 GB, 750 GB or 1280 GB (640 GB x 2). The general remarks on design are valid across the board but performance and gaming capacity are variable. The price obviously also varies according to the option you go for, so make sure you check out what you're getting before you buy!
Hardware well-chosen for everyday usage
The shell is entirely in plastic. The white, glossy coating on the hood limits finger marks. It has a discreet mosaic ochre motif and the palm rest is dark grey, contrasting with the matte white keyboard and panel contours. The only issue we have with the finish is that the palm rest and contour of the keyboard sink in slightly when you press on them.
The keyboard and numberpad give supple and relatively discreet keying, though the spacebar makes some noise when you hit it. All the keys are in their usual positions though the arrow keys are very small in spite of the fact that there's no lack of space on the chassis! Overall though, a positive experience.
The touchpad could also do with being a bit bigger. On a 17.3-inch, a touchpad measuring 4.5 cm x 9 cm (clicks not included) is rather small. The glide is however pleasant and the main multitouch features (two-fingered scroll and zoom) are included.
A nice surprise is in store when it comes to the webcam (720p)! The quality is very nice indeed, with detailed blacks and whites that aren't burnt. Even movements are well rendered, which is a rare thing indeed!
The connectivity covers all the bases. On the right, there's the power supply, the RJ45, DVD rewriter and two USB ports (1 x 3.0 and 1 x 2.0). On the other side, you'll find the VGA and HDMI outs, the third USB port and the headphones and mic sockets. The SD card reader is placed at the front.
This machine also does well when it comes to heat and noise. Temperature and noise levels are very low, even when you push the components hard, which actually isn't too much of a surprise as the LS44 has a spacious chassis and no discrete graphics card, which is generally a source of heat.
The LS44's temperature readings when you push the components hard.
Readings taken using a Fluke Ti25 (Distrame) camera
SD card reader
VGA, HDMI, USB 2.0 port, headphones and mic socket
USB 2.0, USB 3.0, DVD rewriter, RJ45 socket and power supply
Processor power: decent performance
The Intel Core i3-2310M was used on our test version. This is a processor we've seen a lot of over the last year. Coupled with 4 GB of RAM, it allows the LS44-HR to handle all your everyday tasks (office documents, Internet navigation, HD video playback streamed either online or locally).
It can also cope with more demanding applications (3D modelling and so on) in respectable periods of time. Machines equipped with Intel Core i5s or i7s will simply be faster.
Windows 7 Family Premium edition (64-bit) takes 50 seconds to boot. You then have to wait another 10 to 20 seconds for the various pieces of software and connection to a wi-fi network to launch. It turns off in under 20 seconds.
Gaming: very limited capacity
As there's no discrete graphics card here, the LS44 can only draw on the integrated graphics chipset (Intel HD 3000). Unfortunately its capacities limit it to HD video decoding and a few very old undemanding titles.
Audio: decent, no more
The EasyNote LS44 gives relatively homogenous audio. The mic in is usable without being extraordinary and the same goes for the headphones socket - it's clean and sufficient for a standard headset.
The speakers are cruelly lacking in power, especially for a 17.3-inch. They don't saturate, even at full volume, but don't count on them as your main sound source. They'll do however as an occasional backup.