The HP 510 (£370 inc. VAT) has to be one of the most visually striking laptops we've seen at this price point. Designed specifically for the consumer market, the black and grey finish is understated and slim.

We were also impressed with the overall build quality of the system, as it proved solid and well built. The case is made of plastic, instead of magnesium-alloy, which is reserved for protecting the back of the screen, but is certainly up to the job of protecting the laptop.

The screen is a 15.4-inch widescreen panel that comes with a Super-TFT coating, which is great to see at this price point. Proving a pleasingly bright panel, we were impressed with the contrast of images on the HP. Graphics are integrated, so you won't want to use this machine for anything other than standard tasks, but with a built-in DVD rewriter, you can watch DVD movies in comfort.

The one tell-tale sign that this machine isn't more expensive is the use of an Intel Pentium M processor. This is an older technology that has been superseded by the Core Duo. It's a single-core solution, but as long as your needs are simple, there is no need to worry about its performance.

That said, we suggest opting for more memory if possible, as the 512MB installed here is adequate, but the system will handle tasks better with 1024MB.

On the plus side, with Windows XP installed instead of the more power-hungry Vista OS, the specification handles applications capably. We wouldn't recommend upgrading this machine to Vista, so as long as you're content to stay with Windows XP, you won't find any update issues for at least two years.

Robust keyboard

As the laptop comes with a rather large screen, you'll find the keyboard is neatly positioned in the centre of the large chassis. The keys have a neat design we haven't seen before, which proved more than comfortable for typing. Well-spaced and firmly-mounted, the HP had the pleasingly robust keyboard.

The touchpad also has a novel design, which is a part of the palmrest casing, but defined by the use of small dimples in the plastic. It was very responsive in use.

Weighing in at 2.6kg, it's a semi-portable machine that was slightly let down by the battery life of 167 minutes. As long as you don't need to use the laptop for long periods away from mains power, this shouldn't be a problem.

The 510 is a bold new direction for HP and we readily commend it. It may not be the most powerful machine available but, for the asking price, we were more than impressed, making this possibly the best super-budget laptop available today.