Finding the right balance of affordability, power and features can be a tricky business. Take the Hi-Grade, which has the same base specifications as the Zoostorm 53-7701: a 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 processor, 2GB of DDR RAM and a 160GB hard drive. These are impressive figures, but the laptop fared considerably less well than the Zoostorm in real-world processing-speed tests. On the other hand, it performed well in battery-life evaluations, managing an impressive 131 minutes.

See our Laptop Advisor website for expert reviews of today’s best laptops, plus read our essential advice to make sure you choose the right specs

Graphics are looked after by an nVidia Geforce Go 7400 graphics card with 256MB of dedicated memory. The D7000's handling of our Halo and Doom3 gaming tests was rather uninspiring - it struggled to cope with high levels of detail.

Featuring four USB ports, mini-FireWire, S-video network, DVI (digital visual interface) and memory cards slots, the Hi-Grade has a reasonable range of connectivity options. The card reader supports SecureDigital, MMC, Memory Stick and Memory Stick Pro. Its Wi-Fi facilities cater for 802.11b and g networks, although not the now rather outmoded a standard.

The keyboard is easy to use, although it is let down somewhat by the small trackpad. The five shortcut buttons at the top left of the keyboard, which allow you to instantly access applications such as Outlook, are a convenient inclusion.

Weighing in at just 2.8kg, the Notino is portable and ideally suited to business users. But it would not be a suitable choice for running high-end graphics applications or games because of its slightly disappointing screen display - text and colour weren’t particularly crisp or clear on the durable 15.4in WXGA widescreen display.

Click here to read our review of Windows Vista, and here for more advice on selecting a Vista laptop.

Hi-Grade Notino D7000 7300: Specs

  • 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 processor
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 2GB DDR RAM
  • 160GB hard drive
  • 15.4in 1,280x800 TFT display
  • 256MB nVidia GeForce Go 7400 graphics card
  • 8x/8x/8x/4x/4x/8x/6x (DVD-ROM/-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW) 24x/24x/24x (CD-ROM/-R/-RW) drive
  • 802.11b/g
  • 2-year world collect-and-deliver warranty
  • 355x254x35mm
  • 2.8kg
  • 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 processor
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 2GB DDR RAM
  • 160GB hard drive
  • 15.4in 1,280x800 TFT display
  • 256MB nVidia GeForce Go 7400 graphics card
  • 8x/8x/8x/4x/4x/8x/6x (DVD-ROM/-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW) 24x/24x/24x (CD-ROM/-R/-RW) drive
  • 802.11b/g
  • 2-year world collect-and-deliver warranty
  • 355x254x35mm
  • 2.8kg

OUR VERDICT

The feature set may not be the most impressive we've seen, but if you want a portable laptop for under £1,000 that enables you to tap into the world of Core 2 Duo computing, the Hi-Grade Notino D7000 7300 delivers.

Find the best price