As a second laptop for your home office or a very basic business portable, the Toshiba Satellite Pro L300D-EZ1001V is ideal.

You certainly won't find perfection in a £350 laptop, but the Toshiba Satellite Pro L300D-EZ1001V does have a nice screen and sufficient processing power to get you through a day of emailing, wordsmithing, and listening to a little music.

Let's face it, though: at this price, you can't expect blistering speed. Equipped with a 1.9GHz Athlon 64 X2 TK-57 processor and only 1GB of RAM, the Toshiba Satellite Pro L300D-EZ1001V turned in a distinctly undistinguished WorldBench 6 score of 57, a mark that instantly sinks its standing.

Some new laptops may be twice as much, but they're almost twice as fast too. Clearly, heavy-duty multitasking and number-crunching are pretty much out of the question with the Toshiba Satellite Pro L300D-EZ1001V. And considering that it pulls video memory from main RAM, it will never be appropriate for playing 3D online games; in some of our gaming tests it registered appalling framerate scores, in the single digits (basically slideshows).

The Toshiba Satellite Pro L300D-EZ1001V's battery life is not as disappointing as the speed, but it isn't exceptionally good news either at a brief 2 hours, 18 minutes on a single charge of the 4000mAh power pack. (The average battery usually reaches around three hours before running out.)

Obviously, an outstanding performer the L300D-EZ1001V is not - but stick with mainstream applications and take the power cord along, and you should be fine.

The Windows Vista Home Basic Toshiba Satellite Pro L300D-EZ1001V offers a decent set of features highlighted by a reasonably bright 15.4in screen. You get a standard (not high-definition) DVD burner, three USB ports, an ExpressCard/54 slot, and a combination SD/Memory Stick card slot. The 3kg weight of the unit (including the battery) is good enough. The rear has a quasi-dropped-hinge look; the only connection on the back is a modem jack.

The Toshiba Satellite Pro L300D-EZ1001V's design rises above the price tag in other respects. The 120GB hard drive has a pull loop for easy removal, and its protective cover has captive screws. The smooth-working volume wheel is within easy reach on the front of the laptop.

The machine offers sweet stereo sound, too: although the Toshiba Satellite Pro L300D-EZ1001V might be from the bargain bin, it's still a Toshiba, which means its speakers are better than those of the average laptop, even portables that might cost twice as much.

Where the Toshiba Satellite Pro L300D-EZ1001V reflects its price is in the occasional cheap-feeling part. There's only so much Toshiba can do with this 363x267x38mm bargain box. For example, the Wi-Fi switch feels chintzy. The keyboard offers a good layout but has a very hard, loud stroke that some typists might not like; the mouse buttons are remarkably stiff too. Strictly as a matter of personal taste, the lid release seems big and clumsy, not to mention unnecessary for the screen size.

But those are cheap shots at what is overall a decent deal.

OUR VERDICT

It's definitely no speed demon, and you can find better battery life in the upper price tiers, but the Toshiba Satellite Pro L300D-EZ1001V is about as good as it gets for the money. If you're watching your bottom line like a hawk (who isn't these days?), consider the L300D.