The Toshiba Satellite Pro A120 (£399 inc. VAT) is a chassis the company uses for a range of price points, so you're just as likely to find this machine with a cutting-edge specification at a greater price. What this means for the budget buyer is that while the specification is less, you'll get the same build quality as more expensive models.

The casing is made from plastic with magnesium-alloy behind the screen. The overall feeling is robust and sturdy, especially on the screen hinges. Finished in grey and black, its a business-looking machine, but could quite as easily be used by students.

The panel itself is a 15.4-inch TFT screen and is a standard panel, so you won't find any reflections in bright conditions. On the downside, it isn't as bright as the panel found on some rival machines.

Budget chip

When it came to performance, the Satellite Pro doesn't have too much clout in terms of its Intel Celeron M processor. As you would expect at this price point, this is a budget chip, but it's fine for basic tasks, such as email and surfing the internet. For the price, we were more than satisfied with the performance of this machine.

Less ideal was the battery life of 108 minutes, under test, which considering the Satellite weighs a semi-portable 2.9kg, restricts the portability of the laptop.

Considering the specification, it was surprising to find a great deal of heat issuing from the machine. A large air vent is located on the left-hand side of the chassis and grew warm to the touch.

The chassis is wide, as befitting the widescreen panel, so we were less than impressed by the rather cramped keyboard. While the keys are firmly mounted and highly responsive, they're rather small and cramped together.

This is mirrored by a small touchpad too. However, the mouse buttons are large and good to use.

Graphics use the integrated chipset, so aren't designed for anything other than basic everyday tasks. That said, the ATI Radeon Xpress 200M is a feature-rich chipset given the price, as was borne out by its 3DMark 2003 score of 1086.

Connectivity uses the standard array of connections, inlcuding 10/100 Base-T for wired networks and 802.11b/g for wireless LAN. Interestingly, all these budget machines come with only two USB ports for connecting peripherals.

The Toshiba Satellite Pro A120 is a robust and well-built machine, and represents outstanding value for money.