While HP's Pavilion range targets consumers, the Compaq brand is for corporate users. Although the Compaq 6510b (£798 inc. VAT) lacks style and power, its strong battery life, security features and solid build quality are ideally suited to mobile business users.

The 2.5kg chassis is one of the most resilient we've seen. The thick 10mm screen panel provides ample protection. Rubber pads keep the keyboard away from the screen to prevent damage. The downside is that the thick chassis adds bulk when travelling.

However, the 226-minute battery life is and ideal for long-term travel. When switching to Power Saver settings, this increased to 312 minutes. Compared to its rivals, it is the best choice if mobility is required.

Performance is less impressive. Despite its Intel Core 2 Duo processor, just 1024MB of memory is fitted. Performance falls behind all but the Sony in this group. Basic office use is comfortable, but multi-tasking quickly brings the system to a crawl.

Graphics performance is equally average, as the integrated Intel GPU provides the most basic 3D power. Multimedia presentations and movies run with speed, which will suit business users, but don't expect any degree of gaming or video editing power.

Outdoor visibility

The 14.1-inch screen provides strong visibility for indoor and outdoor use. With no glossy coating, images are visible in even the brightest conditions. The screen lacks colour and contrast, but this shouldn't hinder business use.

The HP has just 120GB of storage space. This is ample for business use, but is meagre considering the price. Up to 8.5GB of data can be easily saved to compatible discs using the built-in DVD rewriter.

Data security is a key feature of the HP and is well implemented. The hard drive is protected by 3D DriveGuard technology to prevent disk damage. A fingerprint scanner is fitted below the keyboard, to prevent access to data unless the required fingerprint is provided.

Usability also impresses. The keyboard is firm and responsive. Its typing action may be too sharp for speed-typists, but all keys are consistently accurate. The rubber mouse buttons are also comfortable and protect the screen from damage.

As a corporate system, the stability and battery life of the Compaq 6510b set it apart from its rivals. However, better specified and more powerful systems can be bought for a lower price, so many buyers may feel short-changed if buying for home and family use.