While there's nothing specifically wrong with Dell's Inspiron M5030, when compared to the excellent laptops from Lenovo and MSI at this price point it is hard to recommend. Nevertheless, the impressive battery life may be enough to convince those for whom portability is a requirement.

General portability is great and, although the 2.6kg chassis is fractionally heavier than the other laptops, the 303-minute battery life is significantly better than the competition – giving you over an hour more power than the nearest rival. This will suit those who spend a lot of time on the move.

The M5030 is one of the more attractive laptops, featuring a circular pattern that glints when it catches the light.

Build quality is decent enough, but you'll need a laptop bag to ensure the machine's safety on the road. It's also worth noting that this is quite a chunky laptop; the Acer Aspire 5336-T353G32Mnkk is the slimmest at only 35mm. If you plan to carry your new laptop around in a slim sleeve, then the Dell will not be the ideal option for you.

Dell inspiron m5030

Although not as bad as the Acer's, the 15.6-inch screen is still quite disappointing, providing surprisingly washed out images. If you plan to use the laptop for work this is unlikely to be a major problem, but film and multimedia enthusiasts should consider either the MSI CR620-643uk or Lenovo G560 instead, if you want to enjoy the best picture.

Rattly keyboard

The keyboard is functional but unexceptional. It also rattles as you type, so if you intend to use the laptop when studying or with your family this might put you (or them) off. The lack of a dedicated numeric keypad is also sure to disappoint those who regularly input data.

When it comes to performance, the M5030's Intel Celeron processor doesn't prove as capable as the one used in the Acer Aspire 5336-T353G32Mnkk. Office work and web browsing won't be a problem for this laptop, but anything more resource intensive, such as a music editing application, will cause the machine to show significant amounts of lag.

However, graphical performance is better than the Acer and some basic photo editing will be easily possible – great if you fancy touching up your holiday snaps.

Benchmarks

Battery life: 303 minutes
MobileMark 2007: 132
3DMark 2003: 2057

The 320GB hard drive also ensures that you have plenty of space to store your multimedia libraries, as well as any work. 802.11n Wi-Fi offers the fastest wireless networking technology available - great when connecting to a hotspot - while three USB ports allow you to connect plenty of peripherals, such as your MP3 player.

The Inspiron M5030 isn't a bad laptop, it just can't compete with the MSI CR620-643uk and Lenovo G560. However, the strong battery life could be a deal clincher.

Follow TechRadar Reviews on Twitter: http://twitter.com/techradarreview