In recent months Samsung has overhauled its laptop range with its 'Aura' design, which is sleek with a high-gloss finish that looks great, but shows the dust and grease smears of use.

However, the main problem with the design is the lid, which is easily scratched, so you'll need to invest in a cover for your laptop to protect it when on the move.

The Samsung R20 (£475 inc. VAT) is the entry-level model in the range and, while we're not too convinced by the laptop's finish, there is no denying the robust nature of the casing. Made from plastic, the machine feels good value for money.

When it comes to performance, you'll find this machine comes with a dual-core chip, but in all other areas, the R20 looks less appealing, coming with a mere 512MB of system memory and a 80GB hard drive.

That said, we found the system ran quickly, largely due to the use of Windows XP instead of Vista, as it is a far less demanding operating system. If your needs are basic, such as internet, email and writing documents, you'll be satisfied with what's on offer, but a memory upgrade would give you a degree of future proofing.

When it comes to carrying this machine around, it weighs in at a semi-portable 2.3kg, which is more than light enough for most instances. Battery life, under test, was less impressive, as we recorded a time of just 108 minutes.

Keeping the size and weight down is largely due to the use of a 14.1-inch TFT display. We needed to turn the brightness to full to get the most from this panel, but its even tone and decent colour reproduction makes it a usable panel.

Full-on viewing

On the downside, the screen has quite a narrow viewing field, so while it's fine for the single person sitting directly in front of the panel, it's not so good if you want to share it with others. Graphics come in the form of the ATi Radeon Xpress 1250, which is a newly refreshed integrated chipset that is on a par with an Intel X3100 GPU, so don't expect it to handle anything too labour-intensive.

The widescreen display allows for a decent-sized keyboard. The keys are square and proved firmly mounted and highly responsive, making this a comfortable machine to use. The touchpad and mouse buttons are on the small side, but proved reliable.

We used this machine out and about for a couple of days and, while the battery life means you need to take the power brick with you, or invest in a second battery (£105 inc. VAT), it proved reliable. Possibly consider this machine if your needs are basic and you don't need to carry it out around with you too often.