Tablet PCs are a threat to laptops in a number of ways. They're more portable, easier to use, and more desirable. However, there's one area where laptops have the upper hand: so far, no tablet is as comfortable to work on for long periods of time, or as good at multitasking.

These are key considerations when buying a machine for studying. Laptops used for learning need to be three things.

First, they must be portable - they need to be taken to classrooms, lecture halls, libraries and the like. While they should be small and light enough to be carried about, they also need to be robust enough to withstand any knocks in transit, and not so tiny that working on them is uncomfortable. They need good battery life too, so you can use them away from a wall socket.

Secondly, they should be powerful enough to run quickly and smoothly, with an emphasis on multitasking. After all, studying can be difficult enough without having to struggle with a slow, unstable laptop. That said, with a machine dedicated to learning, you won't need to spend money on cutting-edge technology you don't need. Three to four gigabytes of RAM and a dual-core processor will often be sufficient.

Finally, your laptop should be well priced. It needs to be cheap enough that you feel comfortable taking it with you, yet without compromising on what you need. Let's fi nd out which laptops are the best for the classroom.

Laptops on test

Acer Aspire One 721 - £293

Acer

Lenovo G560 - £300

Lenovo

Asus X32A - £300

Asus

Samsung NC110 - £230

NC110

Toshiba Satellite C660-1G3- £350

Toshiba

Packard Bell EasyNote TS - £420

Packard bell

Samsung R540 - £395

Samsung r540

HP Pavilion DV6-3112sa - £440

HP