Laptop prices have fallen considerably over the last few years, and even models with large screens can now be picked up for under £500. Toshiba’s latest budget model, the Satellite C670D, is a good example. Despite packing a huge, 17.3-inch display, you can buy our configuration, the C670D-108, for just £400 or so.

Plastic leviathan

It’s pretty obvious that some corners have been cut to keep this machine’s price down. For starters, the chassis lacks the elegant touches and shiny sparkles of Toshiba’s higher-end models. Instead, you get a fairly dull chassis that’s made entirely of matte black plastic, with just a dimpled pattern on the lid and elongated speaker grilles for pizzazz purposes.

Still, the matte finish is likely to prove more scratch-resistant than the glossy finishes on many more expensive machines. This laptop also feels pretty robust, although some of that is down to its weight of around 2.8kg.

The keyboard isn’t half bad. The keys are packed together but they’re wide and flat. The keys feel solid too. They don’t sag into the chassis when you apply pressure to them and, although we’d like more travel, they have enough spring to feel snappy under your fingers.

The line-up of ports is rather limited. There are two USB 2.0 ports, plus a VGA output and an SD card reader. For less demanding users, that may be enough. There’s no Bluetooth support either, although there is an Ethernet socket and integrated Wi-Fi.

The hard drive isn’t huge, at 320GB, but that’s to be expected at this price, as is the fact that you get a standard DVD writer rather than a Blu-ray drive.

The elongated speaker grilles are the only real design highlight on this otherwise dull-looking machine.

The sheer size and weight of this machine mean it’s unlikely that you’ll want to lug it around. If you do, then you’ll find it has surprisingly good battery life. In the Battery Eater Classic test, it managed to keep running for a hugely impressive 3 hours and 10 minutes — and that’s with the CPU being run at a constant 100 per cent, so you’ll get longer battery life with normal use. That’s longer than many ultra-portables last in the same test, and they’re especially designed for life on the go.

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