Laptop speakers are generally useless - too underpowered to be used for anything other than general Windows beeps.

The Asus F5RL-AP205C is a rare exception, though. Unusually, its speakers are placed at the front underside of the system and while still a little tinny, there's a volume and bass quality on offer that you rarely hear elsewhere.

Tempting features

Look around the system and you'll find other bonuses, too. The 1.3-megapixel Web cam delivers high-quality pictures and it can be swivelled through 240 degrees to obtain the best possible picture.

There's a 4-in-1 memory card reader, a chunky 200GB hard drive for your data and applications, and a two-year global warranty for added security. This is much better than we'd expect from such a budget system.

The F5RL-AP205C is powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo T5450 CPU. This is a quality processor that should give the system an advantage over most rival laptops. Curiously, this wasn't reflected in the benchmarks, with the relatively slow hard drive ensuring that the system hovered close to the bottom in every performance test.

Impressive battery life

The battery life was a welcome exception, though. The F5RL-AP205C managed 80 minutes under load and perhaps two-and-a-half hours if you treat it more gently, which is a very creditable result.

The screen is colourful and bright, and there's a useful bundle of utilities, including a tool to help you record videos from the excellent Web cam.

It's not perfect, mind, but this remains a likeable system that can be bought at a very reasonable price.