Some laptops are designed with a specific price point in mind from the start. Others, such as the Maxdata ECO 4510 IW (£400 inc. VAT), start life as far more expensive machines that over time come down in price. To this end, you'll find that this has an impressive specification, coming with a dual-core processor and extensive feature list.

The first thing to impress is the build quality. Made from plastic and magnesium-alloy this is a very robust machine that feels tactile to the touch. The keyboard sits squarely in the centre of the main board and is comfortable to use. The keys are firmly mounted and well spaced. The touchpad has a widescreen perspective to mirror that of the screen, and was reliable and responsive.

The lid of the ECO is made from thick plastic and protects the screen with a fair degree of ease. The twin hinges, set into the case for a firmer hold, keep the screen steady even on the daily commute. The 15.4-inch Super-TFT panel was pleasingly bright, with a clear and even tone across its entire width.

When it comes to performance, this machine uses an Intel Core Duo T2350, which is a budget dual-core chip, but we found it handled Windows Vista Home Premium with great success, loading quickly and with no obvious signs of lag when running everyday tasks.

The use of 1024MB of memory certainly helps. The main specification is rounded out by a 120GB hard drive. Overall, we were impressed with the performance of this machine and it certainly represents great value for money.

Feeling the strain

On the downside, it uses the 945GM chipset, which comes with a Celeron M CPU, so you won't really be able to use this laptop for high-performance video editing or running anything too system-heavy.

Weighing in at 2.9kg, this isn't a system you'll want to carry around too often. That said, with a battery life, under High Performance test, of 183 minutes, you'll be mobile for a reasonable length of time.

As the base of the screen covers the back of the machine when open, Maxdata has been forced to place all the standard array of ports on the sides of the chassis. This makes adding peripherals easier, but it can quickly start to look cluttered.

The Maxdata ECO 4510 IW may have started life as a higher-priced laptop, but that doesn't mean it has less to offer now it has been reduced in price.

True, its specification is no longer cutting-edge, but at this price point it's hard to ignore the sheer quality and ease of use of the machine. This is a highly recommended laptop.