Packard Bell has joined the throng of laptop makers offering a low-cost, lightweight netbook. The €399 Packard Bell dot is an 8.9in Windows XP model that runs off Intel's Atom ultra-low voltage processor. This is paired with 1GB of RAM and a 160GB hard disk.

The dot will come with 802.11 b and g Wi-Fi, with a 3G module offered as an option. It will have a screen resolution of 1,024x600.

Unlike several of the other so-called netbooks on the market, the Packard Bell dot will not be offered with either an SSD (solid state disk) or with Linux rather than XP. Instead, Packard Bell is positioning the dot as a "netbook for the masses".

The glossy black mini laptop will have striking red accents and will include a 5-in-1 card reader and 3 USB ports. Packard Bell, which was acquired by Acer earlier this year, believes the dot will appeal to consumers who find a smartphone compelling but too small and a full-size notebook too cumbersome.

Acer makes its own mini laptops in the form of the Aspire ONE, reviewed here.

Aimed at home users and families rather than business users, Emmanuel Fromont, Packard Bell's sales & marketing VP explains "We told our designers and engineers to rethink the netbook; to look at it through the eyes of a family, not a company. The result is the dot".

However, Packard Bell has some rather odd analogies for the €399 dot. Explaining its role in terms of cars, it says "If the notebook is the main family car, then the dot is a scooter".

The netbook goes onsale across Europe in November. UK pricing has yet to be confirmed.

Packard Bell dot mini laptop