If you're shopping for a laptop with limited funds, then the Toshiba Equium L40-17M cuts a good compromise between features, price and performance. It has a price tag of just £429.99 from PC World and still manages to pack in decent performance and an impressive amount of options.
With a sub-£500 price tag, you can't expect the latest high spec components, but the L40-17M makes the most of what it's got. You won't find one of Intel's newer Core 2 Duo chips inside but you do still get a dual-core Pentium chip. It also comes with 2GB of RAM, which is especially generous and helped it achieve a PCMark05 score of 3,273.
Its 15.4-inch screen offers plenty of space to work on and it has an almost standard widescreen resolution of 1,280x800 pixels, making for a decent desktop area. It also brandishes a glossy display, which means it offers great colour reproduction and contrast, although at the expense of reflectivity. It can be difficult to work on if there are bright lights or a window behind you.
The hard drive stretches to 120GB, and while it's not the biggest court on the playground, it will take you a while to fill up the space. There's also an internal DVD writer, so making backups won't be a problem.