If you don't have a huge amount of money to spend but want a laptop that's big enough to work on and powerful enough for most modern applications, then the Asus X53SR should fit the bill. Its performance is impressive, especially given its low price tag of just £549 from PC World.
The X53SR may be a low-cost laptop, but it's certainly not underpowered. Its 1.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5450 processor and 2GB of RAM resulted in a PCMark05 score pushing 4,000. At 3,948, it's more powerful than some machines costing twice as much. It can even turn its hand to gaming, managing to achieve a 3DMark06 result of 1,380 from its ATI Mobility Radeon HD X2400 graphics chip.
If you're after entertainment when you've finished your work, then gaming isn't the only area that the X53SR has covered, with a built-in optical drive that can read HD discs as well as read and write CDs and DVDs. Unfortunately, it's an HD DVD drive, which has all but been abandoned since Toshiba withdrew its support for the format. Still, you should be able to pick up some cheap titles on eBay as the early adopters look to offload their films in favour of Blu-ray.
In addition to VGA, there's also a DVI port, so you shouldn't have a problem hooking it up to an HD TV using a HDMI adapter. If you'd rather stick to the built-in display, you won't be disappointed either as it's a high-contrast glossy model that produces great colours.