If your budget is limited, or you're just looking for a second PC for light use, the Toshiba Satellite Pro L40-12S could be just the ticket.
It may lack the top-end features of other laptops, but with a price tag of around £370 online -- and just £299.97 from LaptopsDirect.co.uk -- it's a steal.
If you haven't got the best part of a grand to slap down on a portable computer, you don't have to miss out on decent features, as the L40 boldly shows. While the performance score of 1,697 from its 1.86MHz Intel Celeron M440 processor and 512MB RAM may seem low, it's really not bad considering how much it sells for. In this price range, anything that can achieve four figures is doing well.
Luxuries such as built-in HSDPA may be out of reach in this price category, but you still benefit from useful extras such as built-in Wi-Fi and an internal DVD writer. The keyboard is a little springy to type on, but it's a decent size, as is the touchpad situated beneath it.
Despite its bargain-basement price tag and component list, the L40 has the appearance of a model that cost three times as much -- it certainly won't embarrass you if you whip it out at an Internet cafe.
While it can just about hold its own in the application performance stakes, it's not really cut out for the competitive arena of 3D gaming. It point blank refused to run the 3DMark06 test, claiming an upset stomach and cramps, and its integrated Intel GMA 900 graphics processor is unlikely to turn in a fast result for anything even slightly more complicated than Tetris.
It's also rather a let down in the battery stakes -- which given its low-powered components, is a real shame. It only managed to keep the lights on for 1 hour 10 minutes while running the intensive Battery Eater test. Dropping down to the more leisurely reader test barely improved matters, with the battery only lasting just over half an hour longer, at 1 hour 45 minutes.
It's not exactly brimming with ports and connectors -- you'll only find three USB slots, though they are thankfully split between two at the rear and one on the right-hand side. Other than that you're limited to modem, Ethernet, VGA, ExpressCard/54 slot, headphone and microphone. The hard drive is quite limited at only 60GB.
In order to keep costs down, you also only get the lowest of the low version of Windows Vista, Basic, and the 15.4-inch screen isn't a glossy model, so colours are somewhat muted.
All in all, the L40 is a good little fighter that, at around £300, punches well above its weight. It packs reasonable performance for its price and rather than have to live with an ultra-pared down spec, you get useful extras such as a DVD writer and Wi-Fi. However, its battery life and 3D power are on the low side.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Jon Squire