Toshiba's Satellite P200-1EE (£649 inc. VAT) uses the same 17-inch case as the more expensive X200 range.

As such, it's quite a bulky machine, but it also has the build quality to shame more expensive laptops.

It's one of the cheapest machines we've seen to offer an HD DVD drive. It's read-only, so you won't be able to burn files to HD DVD discs, but it's great for watching movies.

It should, however, be noted that Toshiba has now ended its support for the HD DVD format.

Vibrant display

The P200's 1440 x 900 pixel (WXGA+) display isn't sharp enough to get the most out of High Definition (HD) content, so an HDMI port is included for hooking up your HD TV.

The large screen may not offer the high resolution seen on some of the competition, but it does feature accurate and vibrant colour reproduction. There were some reflections from the glossy display, but it was less pronounced than on other machines.

Those seeking a multimedia machine will be more than happy with the Toshiba's 3D performance. It offers an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 2600 graphics processing unit, which may not be overly powerful, but you'll still be able to run most mainstream games or presentations without trouble.

Impressive build quality

In use, the most noticeable thing about this laptop is its excellent keyboard. The keys are large, and there's no flex from the board at all. It's also responsive, and it's easy to type at speed in comfort.

The touchpad is large, with bigger-sized mouse buttons, making it easy to use this machine without having to resort to an external mouse or keyboard.

At 50mm, the case is the thick, making the Toshiba too cumbersome to carry further than the next room. However, it also leads to excellent cooling, and the palm rests remained cool to the touch even when running at full power.

This laptop is also robust, feeling sturdy to the touch and promising to cope with the rigours of day-to-day use.

A tempting budget option

Costs have been cut through the use of a budget processor - the 1.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5250 chip - and everyday performance suffers as a result.

You'll still find 2048MB of memory in place, but run more than one application and this laptop begins to struggle, with visible signs of lag.

Despite this, the Satellite P200 remains an enticing prospect, not least because of the inclusion of an HD optical drive for under £700. Add to this the impressive display and comfortable interface, and the Toshiba makes a lot of sense.