Acer's Aspire range is aimed at buyers seeking high-performance components at affordable prices. The Aspire 2920 (£599 inc. VAT) is one of the lightest, cheapest and best specified laptops around and provides strong mobility and great value for money.

Designed by BMW Designworks, the chassis is strong and stylish. The glossy lid is less prone to scratching than the Samsung Q45, but still needs protection when travelling. Its 2.1kg weight almost qualifies as an ultraportable and its 192-minute battery life suits frequent travel.

The keyboard and touchpad provide strong usability. Some keys on the right side of the board are smaller than preferable, but the main keys are all large and smooth to type on. The large and responsive touchpad is equally usable and makes it easy to manoeuvre onscreen.

The 12.1-inch screen is smaller than some of its rivals, but provides outstanding image quality. Its glossy Super-TFT coating enhances colour and contrast and is ideal for basic photo editing. The widescreen aspect ratio is also great for spreadsheet work and watching movies.

All ports are arranged on either side of the chassis for easy access. The three USB ports are clearly labelled on the top of the chassis, so you can easily connect peripherals. VGA and S-Video analogue connectivity is provided, but you can't connect to external digital displays.

Surround sound

Unusually for such a small laptop, Dolby Virtual Surround Sound technology is included. It aims to create the illusion of surround sound using just two speakers, but isn't as impressive as it sounds. We struggled to hear a difference between this and other laptops without it.

Performance is strong enough for most home use. The Intel Core 2 Duo processor and 2048MB of memory allow software to run quickly and efficiently. It was only when running more than four applications at a time that we saw a drop in performance. The 250GB hard drive lets you carry large amounts of data when you travel. The 5-in-1 media card reader and dual-format DVD rewriter make it easy to transfer files from digital cameras and back up your data to CD and DVD.

An impressive software package lets new users easily get started and includes Microsoft Works. Proprietary Acer applications make it simple to perform system management tasks to keep your laptop running.

At such a low price, the Acer Aspire 2920 is easy to recommend as it combines strong performance and mobility with a great screen. And with its impressive features list, it suits the frequent traveller as much as the home user.