The Asus W Series has been around for some time and is a great alternative for those users looking for a semi-lightweight machine that incorporates a DVD rewriter as well as Intel's latest chip technology.

The Asus W7S (£1399 inc. VAT) is a 2.2kg machine, finished in a silver and white translucent plastic with a magnesium-alloy lid. The build quality is definitely high and we found it robust and solid to the touch. The 8-cell battery pack protrudes from the back of the chassis and is prone to being caught and snagged when being taken from your bag.

The 13.3-inch Super-TFT screen helps to keep weight down to a reasonable level without compromising the amount of screen real-estate you get. Image quality was impressive, with an even tone across the width of the panel.

Even when running on battery power the screen remained sharp and bright. Graphics come courtesy of the Nvidia GeForce 8400M G, which is intended for entry level systems rather than dedicated gaming. That said, it's DirectX 10-compliant, so fully supports the Aero interface in Windows Vista.

The keyboard lies flush with the chassis, but the keys have a high mounting, so while this makes for a great typing action with plenty of travel, the keyboard will quickly gather dust and detritus. As it comes with a white finish, you will need to clean it on a regular basis.

The look and finish may be impressive, but it is the performance of this machine that really helps it stand out. Powered by the Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, this 2GHz chip is paired with 1536MB of memory.

We found performance more than acceptable, but rival the difference in benchmark highlights how memory can affect even the most cutting-edge of machines.

When it came to running tasks this is a great machine and we found no lag or delay when running multiple applications. The only time we found things slowing down came with the OS, as at the time of writing not all drivers were supported for this machine in Windows Vista Ultimate. Battery life didn't live up to expectations, as it only lasted for 145 minutes, under test.

Warming up

We were initially concerned about the heat generated by this machine as it quickly grows warm as soon as you switch the laptop on, but it never grew so warm that you couldn't work with it on your lap.

The Asus W7S is a good all-round laptop. The combination of a compacted chassis, excellent keyboard and outstanding performance makes this a great choice for the mobile user who needs to have a powerful and flexible machine with them at all times.