Even if you've only £300 to spend on a laptop, you can still pick up something that's suitable for basic office tasks and the odd bit of Web surfing.
The Acer Aspire 3694WLMi fits the bill for such a purpose and is available for a mere £300 from LaptopsDirect.co.uk.
The 3694 is certainly cheap, but it still manages to hold its own in the performance stakes. While it's not going to worry machines with Core 2 Duo processors, its 1.86GHz Intel Celeron M 440 chip is still reasonably perky when coupled with 512MB of RAM. It managed to pull in a PCMark05 score of 1,333, which is satisfactory if your computing requirements are basic.
Unlike many budget models, the 3694 features a 15.4-inch 1,280x800 glossy display, which offers better colour reproduction than normal screens, although at the expense of increased reflectivity.
You get a generous four USB ports which are sensibly split between the left hand edge and rear of the machine, offering flexibility when it comes to hooking up peripherals. There's also a card reader tucked into the side that can turn its hand to both SD and Memory Stick media, so getting camera snaps onto it is a doddle.
While it's capable of holding its own when it comes to application performance, just the thought of 3D gaming is enough to make it run away screaming. It failed to even run the 3DMark06 benchmark, so you can safely assume that gaming on this laptop is going to be far from immersive.