Toshiba's Satellite range, like Acer's Aspire series, covers the entire spectrum of laptops, from good-value portables to powerful media machines. The Satellite C660-15z is one of the cheapest Toshiba laptops you can currently buy and proves to offer great value with very few flaws.

Design is rather functional, but the plain black chassis is commendably solid. The lid is especially tough and can withstand some punishment, while the textured surfaces are resistant to dust and marks.

While this laptop isn't as slender as the Acer, it's a shade lighter at just 2.4kg. We got just over four hours of battery life from a single charge, making this one of the most portable machines in the group. If you need a laptop to carry around often, the Toshiba will do the job.

With an Intel Celeron processor and 2GB of memory on board, performance is near identical to the HP and better than the eMachines. You can browse the web and run all of your office applications, although trying to do too much at once will slow everything down.

If you have more demanding needs, such as running resource-hungry editing suites, you'd be better off with the Acer Aspire 5741z.

This is also true if you plan on playing with your media; for example, editing photos or watching high-definition (HD) movies. The Toshiba's basic integrated graphics are good only for browsing your holiday snaps and watching DVDs – any attempts to play HD films fail immediately.

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Benchmarks

Battery life: 246 minutes
MobileMark 2007: 127
3DMark 2003: 1544

The 15.6-inch screen is reasonably sharp, bright and perfect for long sessions on the internet, while photos and movies are colourfully reproduced. Contrast levels are strong, but viewing angles are narrow with images darkening when you tilt the display.

Toshiba has made the most of the chassis space, filling it with a firm keyboard and a dedicated numeric keypad. We could happily type on this laptop all day, thanks to the smooth key action. The touchpad is a little squat, but just as responsive with two mouse buttons positioned beneath.

Limited ports

Toshiba

Ports are scant, with a mere two USB connections for attaching peripherals and a VGA port for hooking up monitors.

The 250GB hard drive provides enough storage space for thousands of pictures and MP3s, and is only narrowly beaten by the Acer. There's no integrated camera, so if you want to chat online you should consider the Acer or eMachines instead.

Verdict

Overall, the Satellite C660-15z provides great value for money. Although both performance and design are lacking compared to the Acer, this is a well-built, highly usable and effortlessly portable laptop.

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