At first glance the Toshiba Satellite A210-1C0 looks much like any other laptop, but play around with it for a while and you begin to spot its advantages.

Like the comfortable trackpad and pleasingly clicky keyboard, including a [Caps Lock] key with a built-in status light. Then there's the surprisingly powerful speakers, and the way the system runs very cool: even when the fan is running it barely makes any noise at all.

It's true, there are occasional signs of cost-cutting, in particular with the use of a small, 120GB hard drive. At least Toshiba used a fast model, though, that did well in our speed tests. In addition, compensation comes with extras like a FireWire and TV-out port, and an unusually versatile 6-in-1 memory card reader.

Underpowered graphics chipset

The 15.4-inch 1,280 x 800 screen delivers sharp, vividly coloured images, but don't imagine you'll be using it for anything too graphically intensive. The underpowered Radeon X1200 graphics chipset scored only 322 in 3DMark 06, which means you won't be playing anything speedier than Scrabble.

There was slightly better news with the PCMark Vantage and PassMark benchmarks, where the Satellite A210-1C0 returned solid, mid-range scores. The Turion 64 X2 TL-60 CPU was slower then we'd expect, though, and the poor battery life lets the system down at only 65 minutes under load.

The Satellite A210-1C0 does have its plus points, but they're not quite enough to make it stand out against the competition, and the reality is that you'll find better deals elsewhere.