Providing strong usability at a reasonable price, the Toshiba Satellite A210-11P (£699 inc. VAT) is a powerful and well-specified home laptop. With some of the best 3D capabilities in this class and a range of multimedia features, it makes a great entry level media centre.

Using Toshiba's new silver and glossy black design style, it looks great but may date quickly. Build quality is impressive throughout, and sturdy enough for mobile use. Its 2.9kg weight provides basic mobility, but the low 109-minute battery life doesn't take you far.

Multimedia power

Where this laptop works best is in the home. Its vibrant 15.4-inch screen provides a strong picture for multimedia use as much as home office tasks. DVD movies look great, and so do digital photos, so multimedia enthusiasts will feel right at home.

For taking pictures and streaming live video over the internet, a camera is built into the top of the screen panel. Controlling your music and video files is made simple by a panel of quick-launch media keys above the keyboard.

The keyboard itself is as well made as the rest of the chassis, and always comfortable to work on. Providing a unique feature, the touchpad can also double as a hot-key panel at the touch of a button for increased accessibility to your favourite applications.

It uses an AMD processor, and performance falls slightly behind its Intel-powered rivals. Regardless, its power is more than capable for most uses and only begins to struggle with complex video editing and multi-tasking. 3D power is outstanding. Using a dedicated HD-compatible graphics card from ATi, video quality is impressive.

Making it easy to store huge quantities of files, as well as save games and movies direct to your laptop, a 200GB hard drive is in place. Comprehensive compatibility for all recordable DVD and CD formats is also provided by a multi-format rewritable optical drive.

Adding out-of-the-box usability is a strong package of free software. Market-leading home office, internet security and disc creation software are all pre-installed, making it easy to get started. A range of proprietary Toshiba tools also make it easy to configure essential settings.

Delivering great multimedia performance and usability at such an affordable price, the Toshiba Satellite A210-11P makes for a great entry-level media centre. Mobile users will struggle with the low battery life, but for home use you won't find many better options at this great value-for-money price.