Packard Bell sells its EasyNote MB White (£600 inc. VAT) through PC World, making it ideal if you like to try before you buy.
While its unusual design scheme won't suit all tastes, its impressive graphics performance makes it an affordable choice for home multimedia use. The glossy white and orange case stands out from the crowd, but may be too lurid for more conservative tastes.
A mixed bag of a laptop
Its 2.8kg weight and 188-minute battery life provide basic mobile use. This is a laptop better suited to use around the home.
The user interface is a mixed bag. The keyboard is large and comfortable, with a full pad of numerical keys for data input and gaming use. The circular touchpad is equally usable, but the mouse buttons are fitted too far forward on the case and provide awkward access.
The 15.4-inch screen is sharp and colourful, but lacks the brightness of some of its rivals. Photos and videos look great, but the screen is best-suited to darker conditions.
An integrated camera and microphone are fitted above the screen for capturing your own videos and photos.
Its real strength is 3D performance. The nVidia graphics card carries 512MB of dedicated video memory. It provides ample power for home multimedia editing and mid-level gaming, which is a real bonus at this price.
This is supplemented by the EasyNote's strong connectivity. It has an HDMI-out port for connecting to high-definition TVs. A DVI port also lets you connect to standard digital monitors if you want to work on a much larger screen.
Performance for other tasks is equally strong. The dual-core Intel processor and 2048MB of memory means software runs quickly, so you can multi-task in comfort.
Performance stayed reliable even when watching a video while editing digital photos and running a virus scan.
A powerful high street choice
The 160GB hard drive is ideal for family use and lets you store large amounts of work, photos and music. An eSATA interface is also fitted on the chassis for connecting and backing up data to high-speed external hard drives.
An impressive software package is included and helps first-time buyers get started. Microsoft Works provides basic office tools, while Norton Internet Security offers online protection.
With its impressive performance, the Packard Bell EasyNote MB White is an affordable and powerful multimedia laptop. Unless the design puts you off, there's plenty to recommend and its high-street availability may be the clincher for many buyers.