Toshiba's Satellite Pro range targets business users, and the U400-13A (£523 inc. VAT) is designed for regular travel use.

While not quite ultraportable, its compact chassis is easy to carry, but its limited performance and low battery life restrict usability.

The slim 2.1kg chassis fits into most bags and is ideal for working on the move.

Build quality is excellent, thanks to its sturdy materials and rigid screen panel. The 186-minute battery life is far less impressive, however, and limits mobility for those on longer journeys.

Excellent screen

Usability is consistently strong. The keyboard is well made and provides comfortable usability at home or on the road. All keys have a firm yet smooth typing motion and respond well, making it easy to type at speed for long periods.

The 13.3-inch screen uses a glossy Super-TFT coating. This helps to improve contrast and provides deep and accurate black levels, so image quality is fantastic.

Screen reflections are fairly prominent when working in bright conditions, but not enough to pose a major problem.

Basic performance

Graphics performance is quite low. An integrated Intel graphics chip is used and provides the most basic power for office use and simple photo editing. However, you can easily watch videos and DVDs.

Home and office performance is also bettered by many rivals, but lets you run office software and browse the internet with ease. We only noticed the system slow down when multi-tasking with three or more applications.

Storage is strong for such a small laptop. The 160GB hard drive can keep all office files and music and photo collections close to hand. The built-in DVD rewriter lets you record to all DVD and CD formats, and the 5-in-1 card reader provides easy access to Flash storage.

Limited connectivity

Connectivity is limited. The VGA port lets you connect to analogue monitors and projectors, but there are no digital connections. Three USB ports can easily connect peripherals, however, and Bluetooth lets you wirelessly synchronise data with external devices.

Extra features include an integrated webcam for capturing photos and live video at home or on the move. A full internet security suite and DVD playback software are also included. You'll need to add your own office software, however.

The Toshiba Satellite Pro U400-13A is a well-made, affordable and usable laptop for the daily commute. Its limited performance and battery life make it less suitable for professional mobile use, but for basic daily tasks at home or when travelling, there's plenty to recommend it.