Compaq is HP's entry-level laptop brand and is suited to business as well as consumer use. The Compaq Presario CQ56-111SA is a decent machine which provides impressive everyday performance, even if there are a few usability quirks.

The 15.6-inch panel boasts a widescreen 1366 x 768-pixel resolution, making it great for watching movies without any irritating black bands horizontally sandwiching the picture. The display is bright and provides vivid colours that will make your photos look great.

The matt-black plastic chassis is functional and smart, with brushed aluminium hinges giving the laptop a touch of class, although we still prefer the look of the Samsung RV510.

Build quality is good and the laptop will take the odd knock and bang on the road. It's also easy to keep clean, thanks to the lack of a shiny finish.

The keyboard provides a snappy typing action that regular typists will love, and we especially approve of the large size of each key, making miss-hits a rare thing. This will suit the likes of students who may have to regularly write essays and dissertations.

Unfortunately, the large touchpad isn't such a pleasure to use. We regularly brushed it with our palms while typing, causing the cursor to erratically jump all over the page, randomly selecting and moving text. This got boring very quickly. You can switch the touchpad on and off with a hotkey, but we found this also slowed us down when working.

Everyday power

Nevertheless, the Compaq provides good everyday power, thanks to the Intel Pentium T4500 processor and 3072MB of DDR2 memory. If you're after a machine with the capability to multi-task a few programmes at once fluidly, this is a good choice.

The same can't be said for graphical power, however, and the MSI CR630 offers the most multimedia performance, making it a better choice if the likes of photo editing and internet games are a priority for you.

Benchmarks

Battery life: 243 minutes
MobileMark 2007: 171
3DMark 2003: 1586

Compaq presario cq56-111sa

Three USB ports is standard, providing plenty of space for plugging in peripherals, and there's also 802.11n Wi-Fi for connecting to wireless networks at high-speed for browsing the internet.

Unfortunately, there is no multicard reader, which will disappoint those who prefer to download their photos from a digital camera using this method.

Having said that, ultimately we were impressed with the HP Compaq Presario CQ56-111SA and, aside from the irritating touchpad setup, it is a solid effort that offers impressive everyday performance.

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