Given its large dimensions, the Toshiba Satellite A200-1AB (£599 inc. VAT) is well suited to home desktop use. With strong dual-core performance and a range of multimedia features, it is a system with plenty to offer the whole family.
With its 2.8kg weight and 157-minute battery life, mobility is not the main focus. What you get instead is a large and vibrant screen and well-made keyboard, providing great usability for home office work and viewing both videos and photos.
Thanks to its Intel Core 2 Duo processor, performance is outstanding. Despite just 1024MB of memory, it is fast and responsive, even when multi-tasking. Unfortunately, graphics performance doesn't back it up. Powered by Intel's older GMA 950 integrated GPU, anything more than basic gaming is out of the question.
For easy playback of multimedia files, a bank of instant access keys is located above the keyboard. Built-in stereo speakers from respected audio manufacturer Harman Kardon also provide decent sound quality.
Adding another feature missing from many rivals, an integrated webcam is built into the top of the screen panel. Able to capture video and still images, you can easily take snapshots and use online video conferencing software to contact colleagues, family and friends.
Unfortunately, the 80GB hard drive is limited, but it does run at a decent speed. While it provides enough storage for basic home use, it may be worth buying an external drive for long-term storage. However, the rewritable DVD drive can be used to store excess data.
Much more pleasing for multimedia users is the inclusion of four USB ports and a single mini-Firewire connection. Making it simple to connect multiple digital devices, you can easily extend usability with external peripherals.
Toshiba has included a large bundle of software to get you started. Tools for home office use, DVD playback and creation, and internet security are all provided. A range of proprietary Toshiba utilities are also installed to help with day-to-day system use and maintenance.
While its size means it's not the best choice for frequent travellers, the Toshiba Satellite A200-1AB is nevertheless an impressive entry-level media centre. With strong performance and multimedia features at an affordable price, this could be your ideal family laptop.