There I was trawling the web for a suitably credit crunch-friendly cycle helmet, when my eyes were assailed by a huge ad in the middle of the CyclesDirect website advertising the country's cheapest laptop.

A bold claim, and one that I felt duty-bound to investigate.

Sold via CycleDirect's affiliate company Sterling House (both part of the SportsDirect group), the £179 HCL435 netbook looks to be a pretty good deal. It comes with a 12-month warranty and weighs 1.1kg.

The £179 Windows XP machine comes with a 30GB hard disk drive, 512MB of RAM, a VIA VX800U graphics controller and runs at a modest 1GHz. The mini laptop's 7in (800x600-pixel) screen has an embedded webcam, and the machine comes with a brace of USB ports and a three-in-one card reader. Wireless LAN and a 56K modem are also part of the setup.

Delivery costs £9.95 within the UK, or £14.95 to Northern Ireland.