Hi-Grade's Notino D7000L (£499 inc. VAT) is one the most affordable Windows Vista laptops currently available. While performance is basic, this is still a capable choice for the home office.
With Windows Vista installed, you get all the benefits of Microsoft's latest operating system. Online security is improved and the redesigned user interface makes it easy for beginners to work with their software.
As with most laptops at this price, mobility is average. Weighing 2.8kg, we were able to work in comfort while commuting, and the strong chassis means the Hi-Grade is tough enough for frequent travel use.
With a broad and responsive keyboard, usability is strong. Directional keys on the right-side of the keyboard have been cramped, which makes them awkward to use. All keys have a sharp typing action, but not enough to make them uncomfortable.
The 15.4-inch TFT screen is bright and colourful, but despite a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels, image quality is blurred and lacks definition. This won't be a problem for email and internet use, but isn't ideal for editing digital images.
However, the D7000L does feature a DVI-out port, which is rare at this price. Compatible with digital monitors or projectors, this is a good choice for mobile professionals needing to connect when back at the office.
Fast network connectivity makes it easy to share data at home or on the move. It features both Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11g Wi-Fi, so data can be shared at high speeds over both wireless and fixed networks.
Powered by an Intel Celeron M processor, performance is low, but suits home use. When writing letters, browsing the internet and working with MP3 music files and digital photos, all tasks run with speed. However, performance slowed to a crawl when multi-tasking.
Using an integrated Intel graphics chip, the Hi-Grade capably runs basic 2D games but can't run the latest 3D software.
A program for creating your own DVDs and CDs is included in the price, as well as a full internet security suite for staying safe online. No office tools are provided, so you'll need to buy your own software for word processing and working with spreadsheets.
While not as powerful or well made as some competitors, the Hi-Grade Notino D7000L compensates with improved network and video connectivity. As an affordable entry into the world of Windows Vista, this is also a strong laptop for the mobile professional on a budget. Alex Bentley