The Toshiba Satellite U300-113 (£699 inc. VAT) is very lightweight and ideally suited to use on the move. Delivering strong performance and battery life, as well as excellent usability, it suits home use as much as mobile workers on a budget.

Its 2.1kg chassis is almost ultraportable and ideal for long-term travel. The 179-minute battery life provides strong mobility and extends to 207 minutes using Vista's Power Saver mode. Build quality is strong enough for mobile use, but the glossy lid may scratch too easily.

Despite its compact design, usability hasn't been compromised. All keys are large and comfortable to use, and day-to-day use is excellent, whether at a desk or on the train. Function keys above the keyboard are much smaller than the main keys, but still provide easy access.

The 13.3-inch screen is outstanding. Its Super-TFT coating increases reflections under bright lights, but provides stunning colour and brightness. Photos and videos in particular look fantastic, making this a good tool for digital multimedia editing.

Basic 3D performance is provided by the integrated Intel graphics chip, so entertainment on the move is possible. However, high-definition video editing and gaming will be difficult. A built-in camera above the screen also lets you take photos and record video.

Strong power for home and office use is provided by the Intel Core 2 Duo processor. Although bettered by most of its rivals in this group, all of our test software ran smoothly. Even comfortable multi-tasking is possible using the dual-core CPU.

Extensive storage

Excellent storage makes it easy to carry all your files. The 120GB hard drive is large enough for thousands of office files, as well as photos, music and videos. The built-in DVD rewriter and 6-in-1 media card reader make it easy to share data.

High-speed wireless networks can be accessed using built-in 802.11a/g Wi-Fi. However, fixed Ethernet networks are limited to 10/100 speed rather than the Gigabit speed of many of its rivals. This won't hinder most users but is worth noting.

To get new users up and running, Microsoft Works software is included for basic office tasks, while Norton Internet Security software protects you online. Proprietary Toshiba tools are also included for system maintenance and restoring your laptop in the event of software faults.

For the price, the Toshiba Satellite U300-113 is a bargain. With its excellent usability and stunning screen, it's an affordable alternative to high-priced ultraportables, making it great for mobile use or for freedom of movement at home.