Never a company to shy away from new ideas, Asus has been experimenting with new materials and designs on its laptops in recent months. The Asus W6 (£1599 inc. VAT) is one such machine, featuring a leather-covered palm-rest and lid.

You'll even find a mouse supplied as standard, with a similar leather trim to add that hint of a personalised accessory. The look certainly splits opinion but there is no denying this is a well-built laptop.

The finish and the build quality are impressive, with the chassis feeling robust and sturdy. Weighing in at 2.1kg, it's an ultraportable machine, so the build needs to be solid.

The 13.3-inch Super-TFT screen has plenty of protection behind it, and the twin hinges hold the panel firmly in place. There is a slight lip to the display's trim, which will prevent screen rub and is a nice design touch.

Comfortable ride

The keyboard is the strongest and most comfortable we've ever used on an Asus laptop, and makes typing a pleasure. It's well spaced and the individually mounted keys have plenty of travel and a reassuring click as you type.

Using this machine for a few days away from the office was an enjoyable experience. However, we did need to carry the extended battery with us, as the standard one isn't really up to the task. You'll only get two hours from it on average.

Powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo T5600 processor, this 1.83GHz chip offers mid-range performance, but is more than quick enough for most office tasks. When using the machine we found it ran flawlessly, with no lag. A large part of this performance is thanks to the 1024MB of DDR2 memory, and to a lesser extent the 5400rpm hard drive, which is more than enough to keep things running smoothly.

There are some nice touches designed with the mobile user in mind. For instance, you can switch the Wi-Fi on and off courtesy of a button above the keyboard. You'll also find a quick access button to the Asus Power4Gear application, which allows you to switch between performance and battery life.

With a built-in DVD rewriter, 4-in-1 card reader and PCI Express card slot, along with S-video and VGA ports, this is a well connected machine. While there are only three USB 2.0 ports, they are split either side of the case, and one on the rear, so it's easy to add peripherals without clashing.

It may not be the most affordable laptop, but it's certainly portable and well built. We were impressed with its performance, but less so with its standard battery. But you're looking for a robust and stylish laptop, the Asus W6 has to be it.