It's hard to identify a single magic ingredient that can make a laptop stand out, but we can safely say that the Latitude X1 doesn't have it. It's certainly not a style accessory and it won't impress your friends. On the other hand, who cares about them?

Being a fraction larger than the competition means that the X1 is fitted with a 12.1-inch screen, bigger than any model here. To be honest the picture is no better, but you're less likely to be squinting at it while you type. The X1 is one of the lightest notebooks at this size, although there's a reason for that: the DVD-RW provided is an external drive that plugs into a USB port.

If you need the DVD drive when you're out, then suddenly those slightly heavier models with internal drives will seem much more appealing. That's not the only trade-off. The X1 comes without a fan, which cuts noise and conserves battery life, but also means that it gets warm. Make that hot - you wouldn't want this on your lap for any great length of time.

Before we sharpen our knives and become too critical of the Latitude X1, though, it's worth remembering that this is £100 cheaper than most other notebooks in this category. Despite the lower price, you're supplied with more RAM (a hefty 1,280MB in total), and the X1 returned the top score in our MobileMark productivity test. There's a downside, mind: it also has the second lowest battery life, so you won't be enjoying that impressive performance for too long.

The mixed news continues wherever we look. No sooner do you find a commendable plus point, such as the Gigabit network adapter, than you spot a problem, like the lack of a PC Card slot. There's no doubt that the Latitude X1 is great value for money, and perhaps worth a look if performance and price are vital. However, we think that most people will still be happier buying elsewhere.