The HP Compaq nc2400 (£1174 inc. VAT) is a well-built ultraportable. While performance is bettered by other systems around, the impressive build quality and affordable price make it ideal for small businesses.

Although not the lightest laptop around, the 1.5kg chassis is ideal for working on the move. In daily use, we found it comfortable to carry in even small luggage.

The 130-minute battery life was less impressive, so an extra battery (£129 inc. VAT) is essential for frequent travellers. Spanning the width of the chassis, the large keyboard has a smooth typing action. A pointing stick is used to control onscreen actions. While accurate, its tiny size may prove awkward for those more used to working with a touchpad.

The HP uses a 12.1-inch screen. With no Super-TFT coating, reflections are eliminated for optimum visibility at all times. Brightness and colour lack the vibrancy of some rivals, but suit office use, as well as viewing movies and photos.

Due to the small chassis, an integrated Intel graphics card is used to reduce heat output. This results in low 3D performance, so don't expect to play games other than solitaire and chess. When running PowerPoint presentations, our test files ran with ample speed.

Ultra-low voltage

Again keeping the chassis cool, an ultra-low voltage processor is used. Despite being a dual-core Intel Core Duo chip, the reduced voltage of the CPU means power and performance are low.

This is adequate for basic use, but the HP slows to a crawl when multi-tasking. The HP has Windows Vista Business preinstalled. As the latest Microsoft operating system, security and usability are improved over XP, but you may find some older software is not compatible.

In terms of storage, the HP is a mixed bag. It's 60GB hard drive is fine for business use, but is small compared to its rivals. To protect the drive, HP's Mobile Data Protection technology detects knocks and parks the drive heads to avoid possible damage.

While many ultraportables stay slim by avoiding the use of an optical drive, the HP carries a built-in DVD rewriter. Adding security for your files, a fingerprint scanner also allows you to log in to Windows without the need for a password.

Although performance is poor, the flawless usability and great price of the HP Compaq nc2400 more than compensate. With reliable features, a compact chassis and Windows Vista, the HP is perfect for business use.