Even in much newer company, the Apple MacBook (£829 inc. VAT) continues to look original and fresh. The range has also been overhauled, now featuring Intel Core 2 Duo processors.

The Apple's display is a compact 13.3-inches. It's available with either a matt or glossy Super-TFT finish when you order, so you can choose which you prefer.

This model featured the glossy coating, and it's one of the best we've seen. Colours are vivid and lifelike, and the panel flawless, with none of the graining effect seen on lesser Super-TFT panels. The trade-off is seen in bright conditions where the display reflects more than a matt panel .

Graphics are rendered by an integrated GPU - Intel's GMA 950. This is an older chip and performance is slightly disappointing. You'll still be able to carry out everyday tasks, but look elsewhere for gaming capabilities. The integrated chip does help to keep costs down, however, and battery life also benefits.

Staying power

When used for simple tasks like editing documents, we regularly managed to get over six hours' battery life from a charge, although this was reduced to around two and a half hours when watching movies.

Despite its screen size, the MacBook offers a great keyboard. It's an unusual design. The individually mounted keys protrude through holes in the chassis and operate with a perfect amount of travel.

The touchpad is a decent size, covering a large portion of the palm rests. However, it never got in our way when typing and proved responsive. Build quality is also very good. All of the plastics felt sturdy, and the chassis remained cool even after longer periods of use.

Along with an older graphics adapter, you'll also find a slightly older processor. The Core 2 Duo processor in this machine runs at a rapid 2.16GHz, but it has a slower Front Side Bus (FSB) speed of 667MHz, rather than the 800MHz found in later chips. This doesn't prove to be a problem, as running the Mac OS is less intensive than Windows Vista.

Our sole complaint with the MacBook is the amount of ports on offer. There are only two USB 2.0 ports, and one output socket for connecting an external display - an adapter has to be bought separately.

Despite this, the MacBook comes highly recommended. As a portable laptop that stands out from the crowd, you can't go far wrong with the Apple.