Faced with the choice of a compact and lightweight mini laptop or a full-size notebook with a faster processor, some people will lean towards the latter for screen size alone. In this case the Toshiba Satellite Pro P300-14P will be of special interest.
The Toshiba Satellite Pro P300-14P, you see, is fitted with a 17in screen, and think that's about as big as you're likely to get for under £400.
Indeed, because the Toshiba Satellite Pro P300-14P is a huge 3.3kg laptop with a 17in widescreen display, you feel like you're getting a lot of laptop for your money.
Starting from the inside, the Toshiba Satellite Pro P300-14P has a 1.73GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, complemented with 1GB of RAM. This is somewhat underwhelming these days, and we recommend upgrading this to at least 2GB at the earliest opportunity.
The Toshiba Satellite Pro P300-14P's WorldBench 6 real-world speed score of 59 is one of the lower scores even at this price point, although more RAM would doubtless improve the laptop's ability to crunch through trickier tasks such as media encoding.
With the large lid closed, you're presented with a grey steel-effect plastic case – a theme repeated upon lifting the screen to the open position. The general layout of the Toshiba Satellite Pro P300-14P's keyboard and trackpad is reassuringly simple.
With the extra width of case to work with, Toshiba has elected to fit a complete numeric keypad to the right of the Toshiba Satellite Pro P300-14P's standard qwerty keyboard, resulting in the trackpad being sited off-centre so that it sits naturally below the spacebar.
In the space between keyboard and screen there's a row of extra buttons for speaker mute, Windows Media Player launch and associated stop/skip keys. Speakers are also positioned in this space, and these give a reasonably rich and full sound. The Toshiba Satellite Pro P300-14P had the best audio performance of all sub-£400 systems we've seen.
As may be expected from a laptop with a large screen and relatively small battery, life away from mains power is quite short, at two hours 20 minutes. But this is a respectable result for such a large desktop replacement-style laptop.
Importantly, the Toshiba Satellite Pro P300-14P has all the major facilities you could ever need from a full-size laptop: plenty of USB ports, FireWire, S-video out for connection to a TV, plus ExpressCard and SD Card expansion ports.
The Toshiba Satellite Pro P300-14P's big screen makes prolonged working a whole lot easier. Provided it's to be run mostly from the mains, the Toshiba Satellite Pro P300's disappointing battery life shouldn't be an issue. This is a lot of laptop for not a lot of money.