Laptops no longer need be feeble little underpowered things that are okay with Microsoft Word but break out into a sweat at the thought of running games or video applications.
The Amilo Xa 1526 from Fujitsu Siemens is one such model and it's not massively expensive either, with a price tag of just £810 from LaptopsDirect.co.uk.
If you're short on space, without the surface area to devote to a full PC setup, but don't want to sacrifice performance, then the Amilo Xa is a good compromise. It's a reasonably priced machine capable of turning in results that would surpass more expensive models.
Running it through the PCMark05 benchmark, its 1.8GHz AMD Turion64 X2 TL-56 processor and generous 2GB of RAM pulled in a score of 3,839, which is impressive for a laptop -- especially one in this price bracket. It's also no slouch when it comes to games -- its 256MB Nvidia GeForce Go7600 managed to rack up a 3DMark06 score of 2,332, which could give some desktop machines a run for their money.
It runs Windows Vista Home Premium edition, which means you get some extra bells and whistles over the entry-level version -- most notably Media Center. Although there's no internal TV tuner, so you'll need to splash out on a USB adaptor if you want to pause and record live TV, Fujitsu has included a remote control so you can command it from afar. The remote also cleverly slips into the empty ExpressCard 54 slot when it's not in use, so you're less likely to lose it down the back of the sofa.
If you actually need to do some work on it, it's got a good sized keyboard that takes up the bulk of its width, with room for a separate numeric keypad to the right.
While the Amilo Xa makes for a great entertainment companion, it's not so great when it comes to portability. Firstly, at 399 by 40 by 299mm and tipping the scales at 4kg, it's certainly not something you'd want to carry around with you every day.
It's also not particularly good when it comes to battery life. It only managed fractionally over 1 hour while running the Battery Eater intensive test. Dropping down to the supposedly less stressful reader test failed to make that much impact -- it only lasted a pitiful 1 hour 20 minutes. This is less important than on smaller laptops, however, as it'll be plugged in most of the time.
It's also a little limited when it comes to expansion -- you'll only find three USB ports available for plugging in peripherals. More annoyingly, they're all on the right-hand side -- fine if you're right handed and want to plug in a mouse, but if you're left handed you'll need to drape the wire round the back of the machine.
The Amilo Xa, available for £810 from LaptopsDirect.co.uk, is largely built with entertainment in mind, although it's not bad when it comes to getting down to business either. It lacks an internal TV tuner and has pitiful battery life, so it's not an ideal media centre, but its performance scores are high for both applications and games and it has a large keyboard to tap away on.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Jon Squire