Averatec has impressed us on several occasions with the stylish design of its laptops, but performance has often played second fiddle to style in a bid to keep costs down. The 4360 (£949 inc. VAT) is Averatec's first dual-core machine.

With colourful styling and a widescreen panel, the 4360 is aimed at the home user. The integrated Intel 945GM graphics adapter can use up to 256MB of shared memory, and a 3DMark 2003 score of 1049 is a vast improvement over previous Averatec machines.

Although 3D gaming is still out of the question, the 4360 copes with everyday office applications, presentations and DVDs with ease.

The 4360 features a 13.3-inch screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio, and a Super-TFT coating, which results in vibrant and colourful images. The Averatec has a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels (WXGA), and it's possible to view a couple of documents simultaneously, despite the display's diminutive size.

Individual looks

The 4360 uses a chassis also found on other Averatec models, although a black keyboard, metallic-black clamshell and silver chassis creates an individual look. The screen's aspect ratio creates enough room for a good-sized keyboard in the chassis.

The keys are well placed, and it's easy to type at speed, although the keyboard and palm rest fl ex under pressure. The rest of the machine feels well constructed, however, and a full-width hinge prevents any unwanted movement in the screen. The responsive touchpad incorporates a scroll function.

Inside the stylish chassis is an Intel Core Duo T2400 processor, running at 1.83GHz. Backed up by 512MB of DDR2 memory and 80GB hard drive, the Averatec scored a respectable 231 in our MobileMark 2005 benchmark.

Those wanting to take the 4360 on the road will be pleased to hear the extra performance hasn't affected battery life, which lasted 200 minutes.

Despite a modest 2.1kg weight, Averatec has squeezed a full complement of features into the 4360. Wireless networks can be configured using an 802.11a/b/g adapter, and Gigabit Ethernet allows access to fixed networks.

Connectivity is enhanced by a 3-in-1 card reader, and a dual-format DVD player enables the user to back-up files. S-Video and VGA-out sockets also make the 4360 useful for those wanting to connect to external displays.

Averatec has moved out of budget territory with the 4360, and performance had to be good if it were to succeed. The dual-core processor gives the 4360 respectable performance and, with a stylish design, portable size and reasonable amount of features, there is a lot to recommend it.