It can be argued that the Vye Mini V Ultra S18B (£480 inc. VAT) was the first of the current crop of 7-inch laptops.

After all, it sports the same diminutive screen as the other machines tested, but instead of it being a standard panel, it's a touchscreen, so in many ways this is a UMPC (Ultra Mobile PC) instead of a traditional laptop.

However, while it ships with Windows XP Professional as standard, you won't find the UMPC TouchPack software installed.

The screen has a good tone to it and, while there is a slight haze due to the touchscreen technology used, we found it surprisingly clear when out and about.

Not the most elegant laptop

Weighing 1kg, it's a good size and fits neatly into the hand and doesn't feel cumbersome when being carried around. It's not the most elegant of designs, but we were impressed with the build quality.

The design has a wide bezel around the screen, but you'll find the keyboard is smaller than some of the other 7-inch laptops.

As a result, the keys are small and compact; but while it's not the most comfortable to use, it is usable. With a touchscreen that is set on a pivot, you can use it in tablet mode.

What makes this easier is the inclusion of a pointing stick and mouse buttons either side of the screen, so you can navigate without the need to touch the screen. While this may not be logical, it makes right-click moves easier to do.

A great portable machine

When it came to using it out and about, we managed a battery life of close to four hours. While it doesn't offer all-day computing, there is sufficient battery life for a full morning's work.

When it comes to performance, you'll find the use of the AMD Geode processor isn't too problematic. This is an embedded chip that has been designed for small devices such as the Vye.

With 1024MB of memory in support, we found that for tasks you're likely to carry out when travelling, such as writing and editing, this machine is quick enough and we didn't feel as though we were using a slow device.

Decent connectivity

You won't find an optical drive installed or supplied at this price, but the standard array of ports are provided, including an SD card slot.

Connectivity includes Bluetooth as well as wireless LAN, so connecting to networks or simply downloading images from your phone is made easier.

The Vye Mini V Ultra S18B is a quirky device that won't suit all users and certainly won't replace a normal laptop. However, if you're looking for something for briefings or to write articles on the move, it's worth considering.