Hi-Grade may not carry great prestige as a brand, largely because it's a UK-based company rather than a worldwide marque.

However, this shouldn't put the company in a bad light - it's been in operation for over 20 years and has a proven track of producing quality notebooks at great prices.

The beauty of local brands is that you can often pick up a more aggressively priced specification and machine for your money, and the Ultinote is a good case in point.

The 1.86GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor is the fastest chip in its class, which makes all the difference if you're looking for pure performance as well as value for money.

Shocking pink

The colouring may be a concern for some people - our review unit came in a shocking pink colour that stood out like a thumb which had been whacked with a sledgehammer- but other colours are available, including a more conventional black.

The casing is made from tough plastic and with an overall weight of 2.8kg there's a degree of portability in this solid and robust machine. A sturdy clasp is in place to keep the display closed in transit, and rubber inserts at the top of the screen help to protect it from scratches when closed.

Also proving reliable was the battery life; we managed to get 154 minutes under test from the system. At less than three hours this isn't exactly great news, but it could have been a lot worse.

Sharp screen

The colour won't be to everyone's taste, but the quality of the screen will be. The 15.4-inch Super-TFT display is pin-sharp and satisfyingly bright. This is due to a higher resolution, which is great if you're looking to edit digital photos or simply watch movies.

Graphics are an integrated affair and the use of the VIA Chrome9 HC IGP WDDM is the only area of concern with this machine, because it's an older chipset that doesn't really match the power capable in Intel's latest integrated solutions.

Whenever possible, it's worth checking out the quality of a notebook's keyboard before you buy, because you can often tell the quality of a machine's overall build by its keys.

In this case the keyboard proved firmly mounted with the keys feeling comfortable as we typed. Likewise, the mouse buttons and touchpad are of good quality and proved to be responsive.

Standard features are in keeping with the price range, so you'll find a built-in DVD rewriter, along with 802.11g wireless LAN and 10/100 Base-T Ethernet. This may not be out of the ordinary, but it all adds to the general usability of the notebook.

The Hi-Grade Ultinote W5700 may not come with instant brand appeal, but it does offer serious value for money. The colour choice may be suspect, yet the build quality is robust and the keyboard and screen pleasing to use. Anyone using this notebook will quickly grow to like its charms.