Packard Bell's EasyNote S4947 (£499 inc. VAT) provides the most power and longest battery life in its class, with an impressive specification and basic media-centre functionality.

Weighing 2.9kg, the chassis provides limited mobility. More suited to short journeys, its sturdy design keeps the system well protected. With a battery life of 260 minutes, we only needed to recharge once during a working day.

While Packard Bell has used an Intel Pentium M processor, an impressive 1024MB of memory feeds data quickly to the CPU. It's worth bearing in mind this is an older technology, but still runs faster than a Celeron or Sempron offering. Providing powerful performance, all software runs quickly. You can work with several programs simultaneously with no loss of speed.

Usability is a mixed bag. While the keyboard is broad and responsive, the keys bounce slightly during use. We noticed no typing errors, but it may still frustrate some users.

With its glossy Super-TFT coating, the 15.4-inch screen is striking. Both bright and colourful, images are sharp and contrast is high. Digital video and photos are rendered with stunning clarity, making this ideal for home multimedia use.

With Windows XP Media Centre Edition installed, you can easily access your music, videos and photos via a single, user-friendly interface. However, no remote control is included, so this feature is best used at your desk.

Basic 3D ability from the integrated Intel graphics chip means high-performance gaming or multimedia work is impossible. Nevertheless, this won't affect digital video and photo editing software, which is what many home users will use.

Storage bonus

With a 120GB hard drive, the EasyNote has decent storage space. Ideal for storing huge amounts of data, you're unlikely to ever need to upgrade the drive unless you start working with large video files.

Disappointing for a laptop aimed at multimedia use, no media card reader is included. If you want to download data from a digital camera, PDA or smartphone, you'll need to sync the device using USB. An extensive software pack is included in the price. Photo and video editing software is bundled alongside a full internet security suite for protecting your laptop online. However, basic office tools are not included.

As an entry-level laptop for home multimedia use, we were impressed with the EasyNote S4947. With power, mobility and a comprehensive software package, there's plenty on offer at a very reasonable price.