Toshiba's comprehensive laptop range covers everything from tiny business ultraportables to huge home media centres.

The Satellite U400-108 (£699 inc. VAT) is a compact and well-specified system with a stylish new design scheme for consumer use.

Slim and solid design

The slim 2.1kg chassis is highly portable and ideal for travel use. Its 165-minute battery life limits it to use about town, rather than long-haul journeys, however. The new chassis design is glossy throughout and, while it looks great, it may not suit all tastes.

It also impacts usability. The glossy keyboard is highly reflective, so it can be difficult to clearly see which character is written on each key in bright conditions. The keyboard is extremely well made, however, and is comfortable and accurate.

The 13.3-inch screen is bright and colourful. Photos and videos look stunning, making this a great laptop for picture editing and watching movies on the move.

A panel of touch-sensitive keys below the screen also makes it easy to quickly browse through music and videos.

Extensive storage

The 250GB hard drive is one of the most capacious among its peers.

The built-in DVD rewriter records to all DVD formats, including DVD-RAM and dual-layer discs. A 5-in-1 media card reader also supports the most common card formats.

Core specifications are equally strong, but performance is limited. The Intel processor and impressive 3072MB of memory provide ample power for mobile use, however, and we found the system ran smoothly and quickly at all times.

Integrated graphics

3D performance is less impressive, but this is to be expected from such a small laptop.

An integrated Intel graphics card is used and provides enough power for basic photo and video editing and even 2D and entry-level 3D gaming.

An HDMI-out port on the left-hand side lets you play high-definition (HD) video in its native resolution on external HD TVs. The optical drive isn't high-definition compatible, however, so video must be played direct from the laptop's hard drive.

A great deal from Toshiba

First-time buyers will also appreciate the free software that Toshiba includes.

Microsoft Works provides tools for home office use. Market-leading applications for online security and DVD creation are also included, alongside proprietary Toshiba system management tools.

With its slim chassis, strong specification and stunning screen, the Toshiba Satellite U400-108 is an impressive consumer laptop for basic travel use.

But its limited battery life and glossy keyboard may deter some buyers, so it's worth trying before you buy.