Lenovo is a Chinese manufacturer better known in this country as the company that bought IBM's notebook division and until later this year will still be using the ThinkPad brand name.

Not that it needs to, judging by the quality on offer from its own - non-ThinkPad affiliated - 3000 series. This machine is aimed at consumers, but it still takes many of its design hints from the business stable.

For instance, you'll find only one catch to the lid and this is off to one side. This means you can easily open the notebook while standing, using your other hand for support - something that many other laptops don't offer.

Then there's the extra bezel around the screen, which adds protection to the screen and rigidity to the overall feel of the machine. This brings us neatly to the build quality, which is exceptional, especially at this price point. The Lenovo is solid, robust and more than lives up to expectations.

Pure quality

However, the most impressive part of this notebook is the keyboard. Using the same technology as the ThinkPad, you'll find the individually mounted keys have just the right amount of pressure when you're typing. The keys are on the large size and are comfortable to use.

Because it comes with a dedicated graphics card, albeit the entry-level Nvidia GeForce Go 7300, you'll find you can actually edit photos and video with some degree of performance from the machine.

It's a DirectX 9 piece, so won't handle anything Vista has to offer with DirectX 10. However, with Vista Home Basic pre-installed, you're not really given the choice.

Power-saving tools

Even the Basic version of Vista is power hungry and sadly Microsoft hasn't done a great job of offering the mobile user power tools for managing battery life and wireless networks. Sure, it's there but it's very basic.

This has forced companies such as Lenovo to override these with tools of their own. With a quick access button on the main body, you can manage a range of functions, including security setup as well as Wi-Fi and battery life. This is a great help to the mobile worker.

In everyday use, the Lenovo was a pleasing machine. Its dual-core 1.6GHz processor and 1,024MB of memory was par for the course, but performance remained strong.

Only under intense use, with multiple applications running, did we see the system slow down. A 120GB hard drive provides plenty of storage space for your digital photographs and video files.

With a 15.4-inch Super-TFT screen and an overall weight of 2.8kg, the Lenovo doesn't really stand out from the crowd and even it's battery life of less than three hours isn't that great.

Yet what really makes this machine notable is its usability: it's simply the most enjoyable machine to operate and that alone is worth the asking price alone. Add to that a great specification for the price and what you have is a winning notebook.