Asus is renowned in notebook circles for producing good-looking machines that also deliver on the performance front. What would you expect from a company that also builds machines for the like of Sony and Apple?

That said, the F3m is the most basic machine in the Asus range so don't expect too many frills. However, you'll still find nice touches scattered throughout the system, such as the single mouse button and a neat trim around the edge of the lid.

If you're looking to stretch your money further and don't want to opt for Intel's entry-level Celeron M chips, you could do worse than opting for an AMD processor.

Note that the chassis can also sport an Intel chip - just not at the asking price of £499. The 1.83GHz variant in this machine is the Turion 64 X2 TL56 dual-core chip that packs plenty of power.

With 1,024MB of memory in support, we found this machine loaded applications quickly and was highly responsive.

Single button mouse

The keyboard is a little on the compact side, which is strange because the chassis can clearly support a larger one. However, the keys are well mounted with a good deal of travel and as you type there's a reassuring click, making this an extremely comfortable machine to use.

The single-mouse button works in exactly the same way as it would if you had two buttons, merely cutting down on production and potential replacement costs.

The F3M is heavy, and with an overall weight of 3.1kg, isn't really intended for carrying about too often.

As if to reinforce this notion, we only managed to get a battery life of a little over two hours from this machine, which is fine for short meetings or using when sat on the sofa, but not really long enough for a productive day's work when you're out and about.

A 15.4-inch Super-TFT screen comes as standard. The panel really impressed us, with images appearing clear and crisp.

If you're looking for a machine to edit photos on, this is a great choice. Graphics are supplied by an entry-level Nvidia GeForce Go 6100 adaptor. It's fine for every-day tasks, but if you're intent on editing video then you may find it a little sluggish.

It's not all good news, though. There was a fair degree of heat build-up with this machine, especially on the right-hand side.

It isn't a concern because it fits well within the thermal design of the machine, but it does mean that the fan needs to run for longer periods to compensate. This, in turn, leads to a more noisy computing experience.

The Asus F3M-AP052C may not be the lightest or most portable notebook around but if you're looking for a machine just to use about the home, that needn't concern you. After all, at this price what you'll be getting is a well-built, powerful and highly usable notebook.