HP's Compaq nx7300 (£440 inc. VAT) is aimed at corporate users and offers conservative styling, sturdy build quality and excellent ergonomics.
You'll find a 15.4-inch TFT display, which is a widescreen panel offering plenty of space. Because it doesn't feature a glossy Super-TFT coating, images are not as vibrant as they could be. It is a better choice for the mobile user, however, as it doesn't show up reflections or fingerprints as easily.
Like other business machines, an integrated GPU is fitted, which keeps costs down and should help to give a longer battery life. That said, at just over two hours between charges, the nx7300 didn't meet our expectations.
The integrated card leads to poor 3D performance, with a low Windows Vista Index rating. Marked out of six, none of these machines managed a base score of higher than three. This shows that running Vista with its Aero-interface enabled is a struggle for budget laptops.
However, as a corporate workhorse, this is unlikely to matter as this machine is geared towards running office applications, browsing the internet or watching the occasional DVD.
The large chassis has lots of space for a good-sized keyboard. Sitting in the centre, it's flanked by speakers and offers large and firmly attached keys. Build quality is impeccable and all the buttons move accurately and quietly. The touchpad is responsive and features a scrollbar to make it easier to navigate documents.
As with more expensive Compaq models, you'll find rubber mouse buttons that help to protect the display from screen rub when travelling. Despite the sturdy construction, weight has been kept to a moderate 2.7kg.
It's not all good news, as power comes from an Intel Celeron M 430 processor. Although it has the same clock speed as the Core 2 Duo chips, it's a budget, single-core solution that struggles when multi-tasking. However, it's more than adequate for everyday tasks. There's just 512MB of memory in place, and the HP struggles to run Windows Vista smoothly.
You'll be able to take advantage of wireless networks on the move, thanks to a built-in Wi-Fi adapter, and there's a DVD rewriter for backing up your files.
However, these are the only concessions when it comes to features. While its rivals make good choices for home and corporate users alike, the HP Compaq nx7300 is aimed squarely at business users. It's a shame processing power has been compromised in the pursuit of the budget price.