Push the button – Packard Bell’s social networking M-series laptops

Every now and then someone advertises a use of social networking that makes you cringe. Usually, it’s politicians trying to “reach the youth”. And usually, you’d expect better from technology firms. Enter Packard Bell, with its new Packard Bell Social Networks key.
The Packard Bell Social Networks key is an extra button beside the keyboard on the company’s EasyNote TM notebooks that, when pressed, opens the Packard Bell Social Networks application. The application is basically a sidebar on the right hand-side of the screen, with Facebook, YouTube and Flickr integration. It lets you post comments, play games, update your profiles, and view and share photos and videos, all without opening a browser.


Arguably, this is both an over-engineered solution, and a bit of gimmickry from Packard Bell. A sceptic might think that they wanted to use the internet’s current buzzwords, “social networking”, as much as possible to help the product “reach the youth”, through the use of a dedicated button.

There is also a huge question as to why there is such limited social media support, and whether it will be updated or not. Surely Twitter should get a mention (it can’t be that hard to include), and then there is Last.Fm, Google Buzz, Myspace, and, well, there is a world of other social medium that people frequent on a regular basis.

There are also the limitations of such software – almost no dedication application runs the website as well as a normal browser does. Smartphones are constantly compromising the functionality of the original websites, and almost no user would ever substitute the full browser experience for a cut-down version. Surely, if you have a notebook with a browser and WiFi connection then you wouldn’t limit yourself to a sidebar.

And looking at the notebook Packard Bell are putting this button on (the EasyNote TM), it seems to beg for a full web experience. A 15.6” widescreen monitor, Intel Core i3 processor, upto 8GB RAM and ATI or NVIDIA graphics cards are specifications that ensure that this device would browse normal social networks perfectly.
Anyway, to explore this button for yourself, pick up the laptop for £549 in May from all major UK computer stores.