* Prices may differ from that shown
I bought two Packard Bell notebook computers June 2011 as our Dell laptop was written off and were given a voucher for PC world. Rather than buy one top of the range laptops we opted for two middle of the road ones so my partner and I had one each rather than share. They worked fine at first but amazingly virtually as soon as the 12 month guarantee was up the laptops started to work not as well. Having two of the exact same product and bought on the same day and used just as much it is obviously that they are made to work happily for 12 months. The are both not working properly after 12 months, my battery after approximately 18 months stopped keeping its charge, my partners is now not holding its charge after 24 months, we keep having to reboot to fix the machine. We have had dell laptops previously and compared they are Rolls Royce and Packard Bell are Skoda (when Skoda's had a bad name!). I would never, ever, ever recommend a Packard bell and I feel so strongly about purchasing laptops unfit for purpose that I will be writing to the company about my unhappiness. I feel like telling the whole world DO NOT BUY A PACKARD BELL THEY ARE A LOAD OF PANTS. Learn by your mistakes I say and stick to Dell. If there was a 0 star rating that is what I would give this!
My Packard Bell 'butterfly' laptop developed lines in the screen after several months. Poor mechanical construction (wide screen LCD wobbles when you move the cover). Additionally, the flat keyboard and the small left hand shift key make errorless typing impossible - always hitting the caps lock key. Cursor jumps all over the place as you type due to the lack of separation between keys. Battery life is good however.
Didn't know until after bought a Packard Bell TM81 (rb-023-uk reference for the Black One) that the company had been bought up by Acer.
However the laptop seems sturdy framed, has good defined individual keys with a numeric keypad arrangement; good clear crisp display and fairly stylish looks with the option of blue or dark red models as well as plain black. The touch pad has to the right hand side an auto scroll function which unlike other makes doesn't seem too over sensitive to get activated accidentally.
3 Usb ports, hmdi connection as well as built in webcam together with 500gb western digital hard drive made it attractive in comparison with others in the price band but the extra software included in the package is actually things we will use not just trial versions of things or games :
- there is a version of microsoft office which includes a more than adequate fully licensed - not 30 day trial - and usable for most people's requirements microsoft Word as well as Excel.
- it includes a fully licensed - again I emphasize not just trial period - version of photoshop elements which appears to be capable of doing more than I would imagine most people will want of image editing.
The computer itself feels nice to use and so far have had no reason to regret choosing one with an AMD processor as opposed to a Pentium (indeed in the shop I was actually able to compare some explorer functions on this laptop with a similar specced pentium i3 one and performing a task with a large volume of image files the pentium froze whereas this one did not).
Reading the Packard Bell booklet that came with the computer at the back it states that on written request they will send purchasers disks for 3rd party software installed for the postage and shipping costs. I am therefore asking them for operating system disks as well as the software I previously mentioned, I shall report on the outcome when I hear from them.
My Packard Bell laptop is slower than it ought to be. My packard bell laptop crashes all the time. My packard bell computer does not respond. My packard bell laptop has a broken mouse button after 7 months light use. It is an awful laptop. The only good thing I can say about it is that the battery life is long (Easily 6 hours). I would not buy another one. I would not recommend this brand. Do not confuse with Hewlett packard - a much better and totally unrelated company.
We've had our packard bell from pc world 7 months before it started to randomly reboot itself, sometimes while rebooting itself! After providing proof of purchase the 'tech guys' came and picked it up.
They had the machine a week and returned it with no paperwork, no fault or fix description and the machine was rebooting itself again in minuites.
It was returned again, this time the 'tech guys' had it for 2 weeks and again, within 5 mins of plugging the machine in it was rebooting itself again. Again there was no paperwork / no fault or fix description.
Whats sad about this story is our previous packard bell packed up after about 18 months, out of warrenty and guess what was wrong.. why i went back and bought another i dont know.
£630 wasted, I'll never shop there again, tech guys are unprofessional and packard bells are flawed.
Just reading about Packard Bell, In all fairness I have had mine 4 years and apart from an initial hiccup it has worked fine (am I tempting Fate?) But as you said about after sales, it's terrible. I noticed a lot of problems on forums that the serial or pin number wasn't recognised this also happened to me so I couldn't get any after sale backup, it was impossible to contact them which led me to believe that maybe my computer was a re- furb sold as new ... I would not buy another Packard Bell, they operate like a dodgy backstreet setup.
I have to say, first off, that Packard Bell computers are one of the worst varity I have ever come across. I hope in my case I have bought a one-off, but from reading other reviews I'm disappointed that I may not...
I bought my Packard Bell EasyNote D5710 just a little over a year ago, and was impressed with the brilliantly clear widescreen, the large mousepad bigger than most other laptops, and of course being a student the very impressive price. However this laptop is riddled to the core with problems, as I will explain...
3 weeks after the one-year manufacturer's warranty ended, the hard drive failed with no apparent cause, not that I'm suggesting PB are evil enough to have caused that! However any problems does set you in the hands of Packard Bell's customer service team, who for me at least were some of the worst customer services I have ever come across. Their help was little if not totally useless, suggesting sending irrelevant boot-disks which obviously wouldn't work (but were policy, why?), which considering their products are aimed at beginners or people with little knowledge seemed a bit inconsiderate. After buying a new hard drive and getting the machine running as best as possible (my father has worked with computers for over 30 years, so he did most of the work) I am beginning to realise the true extent of fault with this machine. Even though it is virus/spyware free, and treated like it's made out of feathers and dust, it is impecably slow, to the point where sometimes rebooting it is the only way to close even basic programs. That is, if the machine doesn't decide to do this for you, which every few weeks or so it decides to do.
The build quality as it turns out isn't exactly amazing either, the left button on the mouse is coming off, the keyboard fell out a few weeks ago which was a costly repair job, and the power button is very temperamental. The DVD drive is one of the more irritating of issues, as it refuses to play all but 4 of my DVDs which despite installing various media programs including VLC etc, and doing various things to the drive itself, seems unfixable.
The fan also seems about as useful as...well, not having one at all really, because after about 20 minutes or so you can feel the underneath of the machine slowly burning it's way through your thighs, which again can only be remedied by turning the thing off.
On the plus side though, largely thanks to my father and many hours of patience it is still going, infact I'm writing this review on it now, though in all honesty I could not sit here and recommend this to you. I can't remember the number of times I've left this thing at home and gone to the library instead rain or shine, because it's either been broken, has jammed up, or was nearly on fire. It's great if you want a cheap first-buy machine, because unlike other laptops it won't cost you as much. But also unlike other laptops, it will cost you to keep it alive.
Why does the fan on my Packard Bell desktop computer sound so noisy and keeps surging. If there was an office full of their hard drives the workers would be on strike.
I own a packard bell i connect i cannot tell you which version it is it was a second hand one going to the skip i find nothing wrong with these computers. i have always wanted my own computer so i could play around with the inside of it. it has a dual layer dvd wrighter on it. 56x cdr wright aswell 80 gig hard drive (when installed).
windows xp sp2, a too bigger fan that dosent fit on the heat sink so i glued it on works great thow and looks good defently keep the processor at about 40 degrees. and lights up currently into modding so i cut holds out and put glass in im really happy it looks great. about 300 mb of ram. intel celeron processor not the fastest but it keeps up with what i want it to do. ive had alot of problems with it but thats part of the fun getting them to work right .....sometimes anyway. all in all a good little thing for beginners keeping in mind thow i made this one all i got was a old tatterd shel and mother board n prosessor i painted the shell black and the front chrome. scrathes off easily thow thats where i went wrong i didt sand it down.
I thought I was buying a good brand, after all Packard Bell are a well known company.
I bought an Easynote laptop 15 months ago, which already had Windows XP loaded. After repeated problems I tried to revert to the factory settings only to find the original XP files were corrupted. I'm not implying that this was PB's fault, but they do not seem to care about their customers once they have your money.
After writing to Packard Bell they wrote telling me I could BUY the disks from them via email. (Surely they should provide an OEM copy, but they don't even provide a reboot disk, you have to make your own.)
I tried to email and got my message back from the postmaster, telling me that PB did not accept SPAM!
The telephone number I was given is never answered either.
I have written to them in the Netherlands asking for another way of contacting them. The first letter was replied to with a curt message totally irrelevant to my request. After writing again they haven't even bothered to reply. I have been without my own PC now for almost 2 months and have to rely on the kindness of friends to loan me the use of theirs.
Don't bother to give this awful company your hard earned cash.
I have had 2 packard bell pcs i will explain.
About 10 years ago i purchased a windows 95 packard bell pc. It was great had great childrens software all in all great family computer for us at a genorous £1300. When it came to 2000 it was bearly unrunnable 15 mb of memory even when all intalled software had been removed strange but any way. I got a new pc but not a packard bell.
Later on i decided to uprdae from 98 to xp i went to pc world no none there then went to curries next door. Because the previous packard bell computer was good i trusted them and favored them to other companys. Found what looked like a great good looking pc with flat manel monitor and printer with the pc for £1200 when paying that price you are weary so we asked about it and it seemed all good and bought it. Biggest mistake of my life what an awful purchase at a huge price. It is the slowest computer EVER applciations always crashing always freezes it takes not exgatterating 8 minutes or so from switching it on and being able to use it and it always been like it outragous and i sent them am=n email and noo dnt be silly they dont reply even to the second one never ever buy one without testing it first
When my laptop was going a bit funny and I wanted a computer that was stationary I went to PC World to get myself a computer. I looked at various different brands and settled on Packard Bell. Id already had one before and it was a great computer. Then I looked at the price range. Packard bell PCs go from about £250 just for the base unit without monitor to about £1000 with the base unit and monitor.
As my budget was pretty limited, I had a maximum of £500 to spend.
Packard Imedia 3032 cost £399. It didnt come with a DVD player but I didnt mind as I had a DVD player on my laptop.
The base unit
The chassis of the base unit is a Chrome µATX Chassis and is height 37 cm, width 18 cm and depth 42 cm. It comes in chrome colour with black features trimming.
It was designed to save space and has rear panel expansion slots for sound, video or other adapter cards. Also has three external disk drive bays for the CDRW and the floppy disk and an extra one incase you would like to add something else on in the future.
The speed of the Packard Bell Imedia 3032 is 2.7GHz and its Intel® Celeron processor, which makes it a quite fast computer. It has a Columbia V (GA-8SIML-NF5) Ver 2.0 motherboard that controls all the aspects of the PC from BIOS to Keyboard and Mouse.
The CDRW is integrated into the disk drive bay and has a reading speed of and writing speed of 24x. CDRW works perfectly well with some programs to write but does seem to use into some difficult with the burning program Nero.
Another disk drive bay is used by the floppy disk.
The hard disk is a Seagate product and can hold up to 40GB of information and is built in to the base unit. The RAM is 256 MB, which isnt really much for a PC of this speed, but you can also upgrade it to have better results because it has two RAM slots. The maximum of RAM you can go up to on this PC is 1GB.
The modem is Aztech CNR2900-W and in build into the base unit. Its plug and play with this modem and is automatically detected by Windows XP. This modem is perfect to use with broadband technology and it works well as a fax. I've never had any problem with it whenever I've used it. It hardly ever cuts out and gives you uninterrupted internet/fax time as long as you have the program to Fax and use the Internet. The maximum transfer rate out of this modem for the Internet is 56 Kbps and the maximum for the fax is 14.4kps.
The PC has a good soundcard and graphics card, which is the reason why its called Imedia because it has all media area covered.
It has 2 USB ports at the front and 2 USB ports at the back which isnt too bad and the ones at the front are very useful for plugging in your digital camera or digital video camera so youre not fiddling at the back to get it connected.
At the back of the base unit has normal sockets for the keyboard, mouse, speakers, microphone, telephone, one Serial port and one Parallel port but it also has an Ethernet interface socket. This socket is very useful as it makes the cable box that comes with NTL broadband work faster than it would plugged in to the USB ports.
The nice thing about all the back sockets is that they are colour coded. For example, purple is for the keyboard as the socket rim is purple and the plug from the keyboard is purple too so it means that dismantling or reassembling it isnt too much of a problem.
The monitor that came with the package is a 14-inch screen monitor, which has a chrome trim to it. At PC world for an extra £100 they told me I could have an upgrade on the monitor for a £100. The monitor would have been a 14-inch TFT but I thought it was quite expensive at the time. Im glad I waited for TFT because I got one for £70 a year later.
The monitor comes with a black base to stand it on, which quite hard to fit as the monitor is quite heavy. It has 5 buttons at the bottom of the screen. The middle button is for switching it off and on. The first button is for the menu for changing the colour, sharpness, brightness and the shape and position of the screen. The second button is Select which is to select the options and the fourth and fifth button is for up and down for changing with the menu.
The keyboard has black keys and chrome trimmings. Its a QWERTY keyboard, which is the British standard. It had multimedia buttons at the top, which can be helpful when youre surfing the web.
The multimedia buttons are:
Back - Selects the previous page.
Forward - Selects the next page.
Refresh - Refreshes current page.
Home - Opens home page.
Mail - Check your mail.
Volume up - increases the volume of sound from your PC.
Mute - mutes the sound from your PC.
Volume down - Decreases the volume of sound from your PC.
Previous Track - Selects the previous track on your audio CD.
Play/Pause - Starts or pauses playback of an audio CD.
Next Track - Selects the next track on your audio CD.
Stop - Stops playback of an audio CD.
Media - Selects media.
At the end theres a button called Sleep Mode. This is for when youre not using the computer but you still want to keep it on as you might use it in a minute and you dont want to have to restart it. Sleep Mode will continue running the PC at a reduced rate of power consumption until you are ready to use it again.
The mouse is black and has three buttons. Left button, Right Button and the Scroll button, which is useful to have when youre reading long texts on the web. The Scroll button can be change to do other things like starting up a certain program but the reason why I call it a scroll button because thats the default setting. To be honest, its just a bog standard mouse.
The Speakers are called Thunderball Speakers and no its got nothing to do with the lottery. There are two speakers and they are shaped like balls. They come in black and have a multimedia sound quality to them.
The main operating system on this PC is MS Windows XP Home edition, which came along with the normal Microsoft programs like Outlook Express 6.0, Internet Explorer 6.0 and Windows Media Player 8.
Other programs that came along with the PC were
Freeserve and AOL icons were already on the desktop when you started up your PC so you could connect to the internet as soon as you got the computer. Although I was already with Tiscali at the time so those setup programs made no difference for me and actually they were quite hard to get rid of.
Norton Internet Security 2003 which was a personal firewall and anti virus software. Also had features like Parental Control, Anti Spam and Ad blocking.
Microsoft Works 7.0, which had Word, Access and Excel options to use but limited versions of them.
Quick Time, which plays video, sound, animation, graphics, text, music, and even 360-degree virtual reality (VR) scenes.
Flash Player and Shockwave Player, which is a software that player vector graphics like the Flash E-cards and games.
The PC comes with a manual on how to set the PC up and your certificate for Windows XP and Microsoft Works. All Packard Bell PC come with a years guarantee.
PC World offered me something called PC Healthcheck Plus 12 which is meant to give you extra cover incase the PC goes wrong, a year free check up and free upgrade installation if I bought the parts from PC world for all £99 a year. I think this scheme is a rip off as your PC comes with a guarantee in the first place and I told them NO THANK YOU. Knowing PC World, they would do more damaged to your PC in 5 minutes than you have done in a whole year.
Support for your Packard Bell PC
0906 7530 753
Mon to Fri 10:00 - 22:00; Sat 10:00 - 14:00
Currys, Dixons, or PC World (UK only)
Warranty 0870 901 3000
National call rate
Software 0906 752 5600
or go and visit their website and use your code to know exactly what's in your PC and how to fix your problems. http://www.packardbell.co.uk
Where can you get one
Well as I bought this a year ago, I doubt much that you can get this one as it's already out of date in PC land but there's a lot of similar Imedia Packard Bell around for the same price as I paid for mine.
Dixons, Comet, PC World, Staples. They all do offers and promotions. Just have a peek and see what you can find.
Overall thoughts on this PC
The PC is quite a good model. I havent had any problem with it nor have I had any crashes. The only problem is the RAM. It makes the PC slower than it should be and then uses up all of Windows Virtual memory. I have rectified the problem at bit by a program that frees up the RAM all the time and the PC is running a lot faster. Saying this I could have an upgrade in RAM to make it run smoother for about £30 extra which in the next year, I probably will do.
All in all this Imedia 3032 is a lovely PC.
Time was when buying a new PC would leave very little change from a thousand pounds for even the most basic of systems, but with mass production of components and increased competition from retailers PC prices have tumbled to such an extent that an adequate system can be purchased for just a few hundred pounds. This is where the Packard Bell 3051 iMedia comes in; a friend of mine was looking for a new PC and despite my protestations had decided that PC World was the shop to get his custom. A look around the various models on display unearthed what seemed to be a veritable bargain - the above mentioned system for just £310. Some questioning of a shop assistant revealed that this price did not include a monitor but since the friend in question had purchased a TFT monitor not four months ago this was ideal as far as he was concerned. So £310 and half an hour later we were setting about the task of unpacking and installing the new PC to see exactly what £310 bought by way of a new computer system.
Whats in the box?
Well Ive already mentioned that a monitor is not included but what you do get is a nice looking silver and black tower with separate DVD and CD-RW drives and the mandatory but seldom used floppy drive. The 102 key keyboard is also silver and black as is the two button scroll mouse and the twin speakers. Power leads and cables are of course all present as are instructions for both the PC system and the Windows XP home operating system which is preinstalled. A quick start guide simple tells you to plug in the corresponding coloured cables to the same coloured sockets which makes setup pretty well idiot proof, indeed these two particular idiots had the computer up and running in little more than ten minutes. Finally, some bundled software is supplied on CD as well as a Packard Bell recovery DVD Rom should things go wrong and the factory default setup needs to be returned to.
A look at the components in more detail:-
The 3051 is powered by an Intel Celeron 2.6 GHz Processor with 128 kb cache memory which is a budget processor from Intel aimed to counteract the success of AMD`s Duron chip. The Intel Celeron is also very much the poor relation to Intels Pentium 4 series and as you would expect does not perform as well as its bigger sibling. For those of a technical bent the 2.6 GHz Celeron has 400MHz "Quad-Pumped" Front Side Bus and L2 cache to 256KB. In benchmark tests I have seen on the internet the 2.6 Celeron performs adequately but not remarkably with a speed for image processing and graphic rendering around two thirds that of a comparable AMD Athlon or Pentium 4 processor. I feel it is fair to say that if you are looking for a lightning fast PC setup then this processor and therefore the 3051 PC is not for you, but with Celeron Processors costing roughly half the price of AMD`s Athlon or Intels Pentium 4 processors the Celeron was really the only realistic option to keep the price of the whole system low.
The Hard disk
The 3051 comes with a 40GB Hard disk running at 7200rpm which is enough for most peoples everyday needs, but only just. Having used a 5400rpm hard disk myself for several months last year due to repair issues with my faster drive I was anxious that the hard disk in the 3051 was no slower than 7200rpm as a 5400rpm hard disk would really be a weak link in the system, luckily Packard Bell have not tried to cut costs in this department. The Hard drive is virtually silent in operation and quick to respond to commands with the processor and the Hard disk combining with the memory to load Windows XP and around 20GB of data in about forty-five seconds.
This is an area were Im glad to say the 3051 does not let itself down, the 256MB RAM is enough for a budget system and is of the DDR variety rather than the SDR-RAM. DDR RAM (Double Data Rate) is a lot faster than SDR RAM (Single Data Rate) as it transfers data at roughly twice the speed. The 256 MB does the job in the 3051 and there are two empty memory expansion slots should an upgrade be deemed necessary.
Sound and Speakers
There is no separate sound card in the 3051, it being incorporated into the motherboard. This immediately made me suspicious as to how good sound would be but I neednt have worried. There are three sound connector ports to be found at the back of the 3051 which consist of a line-out jack to connect to speakers, a line in jack to connect a sound source to the computer and a microphone jack to connect a mono microphone with a 3.5 mm plug. Connecting the speakers is another easy feet with power being delivered directly from the 3051 via a power lead which runs from the back of the computer to the speakers and eliminates the need for another plug to be used. A light green lead is connected to the line-out jack and the speakers are up and running. The speakers are round in shape and are black to match the other 3051 constituents, the left speaker contains a volume dial and LED power light and both speakers should be positioned about four feet away from each other. Sound performance is good if not spectacular; turning the volume knob up high while music is playing produces a clear, and very loud, result with little adverse effect to the sound. Bass is low and deep with only slight booming and humming while voices are crisp and clear and are delivered without crackle or interference. Of course a four or five speaker set up would have been nice but again we are back to the price verses specification argument.
The graphics card in the 3051 is also integrated onto the motherboard and is 64 MB SiS 651GX. Display options are good with the screen resolution set to 1280 x 1024 pixels without any noticeable problems. Colour quality is fine at 32 bit with dpi (dots per inch) set at 96. Colours are crisp and even and appear without ghosting while DVD movies are smooth and vividly displayed. The two games I played on the system (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban & The Simpsons Hit and Run) both ran smoothly with no stutters or stalls, graphics were all smooth with clear edges and colours were displayed beautifully. For those that want to add a more powerful graphics card an AGP slot is supplied.
DVD, CDRW and floppy drives
The disk drives on the 3051 are coloured black to compliment the look of the tower with green LED lights on each that flicker when the drive is in action, the eject buttons are smallish and when pushed produce instant and smooth movement in the disk tray. The DVD drive is sixteen speed and is surprisingly quite when spinning, Power-Cinema software is pre-installed to enable DVD film playback which is smooth and stutter free. The CD-RW drive is amazingly fast with a CD-R able to be written to at up to forty-eight speed. A little test I carried out was to produce a music CD with around seventy-eight minutes of songs on it, using Roxio Easy CD-DVD creator version 7 the whole process was finished in slightly under two minutes, not at all bad in my opinion. Finally the mandatory but seldom used floppy disk drive completes the trio, sadly I am unable to verify the speed or sound of this drive in operation as we could not find any software supplied on a 3.5 floppy disk. There are no spare drive bays on the 3051 which is a bit of a shame but this does keep the towers front clean and compact looking.
Modem and Ethernet
The Modem is a pretty standard 56 kbps model and is connected to the motherboard via a PCI slot. The Internet service provider software that we opted for was AOL narrowband and the setup program detected the modem straight away. Dial up is quick with no disconnects reported. The 3051 also has an Ethernet 10/100 mbps connection which is a fast and common method of networking computers.
Keyboard and Mouse
The keyboard is again coloured silver and black and is of the 102 key variety. Connected to the PC tower via a PS2 plug it has fourteen hot keys, eight of which can be programmed to open applications or files of the users choice. The keys have a nice solid feel to them when depressed and the whole layout is ergonomically pleasing. The mouse is black and is made by Logitech; again it connects to the PC tower via a PS2 connection and has two buttons and a scroll wheel between them. Movement is good and the buttons are fast and responsive to the touch.
Sockets, Slots and Ports
The 3051 has a number of necessary sockets and slots as well as extra ones to make future upgrading a painless exercise. Attached to the motherboard is an AGP slot should a better graphic card be required as well as two PCI slots for additions such as a sound or TV card. To the rear of the PC tower there is one serial and one parallel port for older peripherals such as printers and scanners to be connected. The two PS2 sockets are for the mouse and keyboard and the VGA port is for the monitor. The sound connections have been covered in the sound card section which leaves the USB connections, of which there are four. The USB ports are version 2.0 and are much faster than their predecessor. One slight gripe regarding the USB ports is that two of them are at the back of the tower while two are at the front. Call me old fashioned but I like all the plugs, sockets and wires tucked away at the back of the computer out of sight, I do see why Packard Bell have done this though as USB connected hardware can be plugged in and unplugged with the minimum of effort. Also six USB ports would have been handier than the four supplied but a PCI USB card can be purchased and added for little more than £10.
The Operating System
Windows XP Home edition is the operating system pre-installed on the 3051 and to my mind it is a good, solid and steady operating system. Those used to older versions of Microsoft Windows will notice the whole look and feel has been completely overhauled with slick looking graphics and increased security the key. Multiple accounts can be setup with each account able to be customised as required. One particular facet of Windows XP home that has proved invaluable to this PC is the System Restore feature. The person whos computer this is decided to connect to the internet before installing any virus software or a firewall which resulted in a virus attacking the computer and causing almost constant rebooting of the machine. With a little patience and know how I was able to activate the System Restore feature and return the computer and all of the installed software thereon to a time before the virus was downloaded and thus averting the need for a time consuming re-format of the hard-disk. Other features of Windows XP that are worthy of mention are the automatic error reporting process should there is a problem, the automatic detection of any new hardware that you plug in, and taskbar grouping which places similar types of programs or folders displayed in the taskbar together for neatness.
Other Software Included
Microsoft Works 7.0 is included which is an extremely handy program to have in that it boasts a word processing program, spreadsheet, graphics and database all in one. Although superseded by Microsoft Office, MS Works is still a worthy set of programs to have for the beginner. DVD films can be played using Power Cinema which is easy to use and uncomplicated to master. The top two Internet service providers in the UK AOL and Freeserve have their latest software included while basic programs that help improve web browsing like Acrobat reader, Shockwave player, Realplayer, Quick Time and Flash Player are also pre-installed.
What I like about the Packard Bell 3051
Well, there is much to like in this PC. Starting with the look of the components - they are all compact and stylish with the modern livery of silver and black replacing the turgid beige of yesteryear. The 3051 is also extremely quiet with the processor fan and hard-disk making virtually no discernable noise. Access to the PC`s innards is a simple matter of undoing two screws so any upgrades needed can be easily installed. Each port or connection is colour coded so even the most incompetent of computer users should have little problem putting the right knob or plug in the correct place. The keyboard is solid to type with and the mouse is smooth and responsive to the touch. Both the DVD and CDRW drives are quick to read disks and fairly quiet when spinning and the presence of an Ethernet port is handy for networking options.
What I dislike about the Packard Bell 3051
Well, four speakers would be a lot better than the two supplied and would improve game and DVD play no end. The four USB sockets are good especially as they are of the version 2 variety but with most printers, scanners, modems and MP3 upload cables being USB a couple more would have been handy and all of them should be positioned to the back of the computer for neatness. A reset button would also be nice as would a spare 5¼ drive bay for a hard-disk caddy or sound controls. The Hard disk is as small as anyone would want to go, doubling the capacity to 80 GB would make all the difference. Finally, the Windows XP operating system is not supplied on CD, and is instead placed in a partition on the hard-disk. Im not sure how this works if the system becomes corrupt and a reformat and reinstallation of the operating system is required, hopefully I will not find out but I do like to have any operating system on disk for safetys sake.
Despite the little niggles above the Packard bell 3051 is still an amazing PC system for the price. With a one year return to base warranty and detailed instructions the system is easy to set up and use with obvious thought going into the manufacture and choice of components. The 3051 is probably not for the more experienced user but the relative speed and ability to upgrade means that it is a PC that will last a good few years. Four stars out of five.
I made the mistake of buying a Packard Bell PC without realising that the motherboard was non-standard and that Packard Bell have a habit of discontinuing motherboard designs. The end result of this was that when the motherboard failed after three years it was impossible to obtain a replacement or get it repaired. The machine itself was not bad in terms of performance and upgradability but the "on-repairability" issue means that I will never buy another Packard Bell machine ever again. My recommendation would be either to go for a machine from one of the big manufacturers (e.g. HP/Compaq) or one built from standard components. My deceased Packard Bell has not been replaced with an HP.
I was asked by a friend to help 'sort out' his Packard bell PC, it came with Windows 98 and lots of useless software. After many months of Windows 98 related problems he decided to buy Windows ME. This is where I come in. First I installed a second hard disk drive that became the D: Drive to use as a backup device. After backing up all of the data (photos, mp3 and 2.5 years of his wife's degree work) to the D: drive, I FDisked the C: Drive and installed Windows ME to see if it would recognise all of the hardware as the sound and VGA are built in to the motherboard. All went well apart from the modem, Windows Me could not detect the modem and being a Packard Bell, no driver disks are supplied, all of the software and drivers are contained in a compressed set of recovery files on the recovery CDs. I decided to run the recovery CD which installs Windows 98 and all the hardware drivers and then run the Windows ME setup from within Windows 98 to overwrite 98 with ME. I inserted the boot floppy and recovery CD provided and was greeted with a screen saying *WARNING THIS RECOVERY CD WILL ERASE ALL OF THE INFORMATION FROM YOUR COMPUTER - DO YOU WISH TO CONTINUE* I pressed the OK button and was the presented with: Removing Partition from HDD 0 Removing Partition from HDD 1 I could not believe that the second disk had also had the partition removed as this was being used only as a storage area. My friend and I ended up sitting in front of that machine until 5:30 am as all of his wife’s college work (2.5 Years of work) was on the D: Drive. I finally recovered the deleted partition using Norton Disk Doctor (borrowed from a very unhappy friend whom I phoned at 1:30 am) The point of this tail is to warn people of the sloppy recovery disks provided with a lot of these PCs. I was totally unprepared for the removal of the D: Drive partition as no other sof
tware I have ever used effects more than one Hard Disk Drive at a time. I'm not a PC dabbler, repairing PCs is my job, I have 4 years experience with the Ministry of Defence and now teach Hardware and software installation and repair (some say I know what I’m doing) I am now awaiting a reply and explanation from Packard bell but I don't hold much hope of a coherent answer as the clown I spoke to on the phone was about as useful as a chocolate teapot. Finally, all of the work was recovered, the modem was finally identified and I downloaded some drivers for it from the net, Windows ME was installed and all is now well. I have now created a CD-Rom Image of my friends HDD which also has the driver files for the modem on it, but most importantly, his wife’s work is now safely on a CD-Rom too.