Sold through Tesco, the Gateway MT6825b (£499 inc. VAT) is one of the most affordable Windows Vista laptops we've seen, and is a powerful dual-core system.

An Intel Core 2 Duo processor provides powerful performance, and we were able to run multiple programs with no loss of speed, so it's likely you won't need to upgrade for some time to come.

The chassis is well protected and has an impressive quality to it. When working on the daily commute, we found the 2.9kg weight heavier than we'd like. Due to its dual-core performance, the chassis quickly gets hot, so the Gateway is best used on a desktop.

Particularly impressive is the glossy Super-TFT screen. Images are bright and vibrant, providing an accurate way to work with digital images and video. However, its glossy coating means screen reflections are increased, which can limit visibility under office lights.

Firm handler

Usability surpassed expectations. The Gateway keyboard is both firm and responsive and at no time did we encounter any typing errors. The wide-aspect touchpad is equally efficient, making this a reliable laptop for the home office.

With improved search and security features, Windows Vista suits family use. However, not all of our test software could be installed, as compatibility is still a work in progress. Bear this in mind if you already own a catalogue of older software.

When testing modern games via the integrated Intel graphics chip, performance slowed to a crawl and was almost unplayable. Basic gaming is possible, but don't rely on this as your sole entertainment system.

The majority of ports are located on the right of the laptop for easy access. All are clearly labelled on the top of the chassis so you can easily connect peripherals and USB devices.

For connecting to wireless hotspots, a built-in 802.11b/g Wi-fi card provides high-speed access. Fixed Ethernet connections can also be configured. Transfer speeds are slower than some rivals provide, but fast enough for home use.

Getting new users quickly up and running, a range of market-leading software programs is included for free, providing essential office and internet security tools.

With power beyond its entry-level price tag, the Gateway MT6825b excels on many levels. As an affordable and reliable laptop, this will suit both first-time buyers and advanced users alike, and is highly recommended. Alex Bentley