HP's consumer Pavilion range is the polar opposite of its conservatively styled Compaq laptops. The Pavilion dv6358ea (£698 inc. VAT) is a case in point and features HP's Imprint design with contour lines that span the chassis and give it a distinctive appearance.

Open the lid and you'll find a particularly good 15.4-inch screen. It's glossy, so it does reflect in brighter conditions, but we found the deep colours and sharp images ideal for watching movies.

A range of backlit keys below the screen make it easy to control your movies and CDs at the touch of a button. HP's QuickPlay software is also included - letting you play media files without having to wait for Windows to boot.

For 3D tasks, Nvidia's GeForce Go 7400 graphics card is fitted, which is a mainstream solution offering enough performance for everyday needs. While you won't be able to play the latest games, we found older games ran reasonably well. All the regular applications we used also ran without trouble.

The dedicated GPU did have an effect on battery life, however. Between charges, the HP struggled to last for two and a half hours.

As a laptop aimed at the home user, comfort is high on the agenda. The keys have a tapered edge, which makes it easy to type quickly without mistakes. They move with a firm action and are well-attached. While the touchpad is responsive, the plastic finish doesn't let your finger glide smoothly across it, making the use of a mouse preferable.

As with all HP laptops, fit and finish is impressive. The chassis is sturdy, although not quite as strong as HP's Compaq laptops.

Movie magic

You'll find a speaker grill spanning the width of the chassis. Adding to the cinematic experience, the speakers below are made by audio manufacturer Altec Lansing, providing a defined and loud tone by laptop standards.

The design is let down slightly by the positioning of the USB ports, however. With two of them sitting close to each other, and the third right next to the power socket, you won't be able to plug in more than one bulky peripheral at the same time.

Considering the affordable price, there are plenty of features on offer. A webcam is integrated into the top of the screen bezel, along with a microphone - making video calls a possibility. The DVD rewriter also includes LightScribe, which lets you burn images and writing on to compatible discs - saving the need for sticky labels.

It's difficult not to be impressed by the Pavilion. It does most things well, and doesn't have any major faults.