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Laptop choices

Here are some laptops I've chosen which I think are suitable for you. The main things I was looking for were:
  • Suitable for Internet browsing, email etc.
  • Suitable for watching videos, including HD video and DVDs
Therefore, you can expect all the machines listed below to do those tasks well, even if they are described as having 'poor graphics' etc. I've not prioritised things like portability, battery life (although some are quite good), looks etc.
Finally, I tried to make sure the laptops are fast enough and have enough memory and disc space to last a few years, but of course there are differences here, given the different makes, models and prices!

I looked at two types of reviews: professional reviews ('Expert reviews'), which are published online and usually have benchmarks etc, and customer reviews, which are notes made by customers (like those you find on Amazon). Both are valuable! The professional ones sometimes get carried away with features and specs, or looks, and the customer ones give you a feel for what the product is really like, in use. However, customer reviews vary a lot because, well, customers vary a lot...

I copied and/or summarised comments I found in reviews. You will probably find much of it means nothing to you. Ignore it - it's for my benefit!

MSI CR620 - £241.12 with Free Super Saver Delivery (NB this looks too cheap, perhaps w/o VAT? Next best priice is £312.02)
Core i3-370M 2.13GHz / 3GB RAM /  320GB HDD / 15.6" HD / DVD-RW / GMA HD
Webcam, WLAN, Windows 7 Home Premium

Expert Review: 
Great value for money is on offer here and a real surprise for a budget laptop
Three USB ports, VGA and HDMI
Excellent screen... Build quality is just as impressive, but a shiny finish shows smears.
24-month collect & return warranty
Battery life: 234 minutes
MobileMark 2007: 225
3DMark 2003: 3197
The integrated Intel GMA HD graphics card provides enough power for basic multimedia tasks, such as photo editing, and you'll have no problem watching DVDs or streaming YouTube videos.
The sound from the stereo loudspeakers is really unacceptable.
Keyboard flexes too much and layout takes some getting used to.

Toshiba Satelite Pro C660-16N - £299.97 inc. vat
Trade in your old laptop and get £50-£100 back on any new Toshiba laptop with an Intel© processor
Intel Core 2 Duo T6670 2.2GHz / 4GB RAM / 320GB HDD / 15.6" HD / DVD±RW
Webcam,  Free Carry Case, Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
extremetly cheap
decent quality 
only 2 USB ports
not HDMI
poor graphics performance

Expert reviews: 
A budget and functional laptop suitable for basic tasks, but it never excels
Durable chassis (but 'drab', 'unexciting')/ Processor faster than some, butt slower than i3
Battery life: 250 (4 hours)
MobileMark 2007: 190
3DMark 2003: 1877
"... display  sadly more reflective than most ... with tight vertical viewing angle, means getting a comfortable viewing position can be tricky. Nevertheless, the resolution of 1,366x768 pixels isn't bad, and the legibility of text in documents and on websites is good once you've got the screen positioned correctly."
"but at least the Intel HD graphics provide some acceleration for tasks like high-definition video playback" "rattly keyboard"
Customer reviews:
+ Nice screen; nice keyboard (according to some); light; portable; great performance...
- Graphics rubbish, very slow, crashes...

Acer Aspire 5750 - £359.00 inc VAT
i3 2310M 2.10GHz / 4GB RAM / 320GB HDD / 15.6" LED / DVD±RW
Webcam, Windows 7 Home Premium, USB 3.0 ports, NVIDIA GT540M Graphics w. Optimus technology.

Expert review:
(there is considerable disagreement regarding the quality of the screen and sound, here's a synthesis):
The screen is good but  viewing angles are on the tight side ... and high gloss leads to reflections, so you have to be careful how you position the screen if you want to be able to see what's happening properly. The speakers are adequate, but sound a bit tinny (poor on bass).

... three USB ports ... one supports 'sleep and charge', so you can charge devices like mobile phones andMP3 players even when the laptop is switched off. Also, one ... supports USB 3.0."

Customer reviews: "nice screen and keyboard"; "Feels a bit plasticky, viewing angles sucks, sound isn't very bad but not the best"

Lenovo G560 - £379.97 inc. VAT
Best prices from '':

Cheapest  - £299.99
Part Number: M27B2UK Pentium P6200 Dual Core, Windows 7 Home Premium Edition 64-bit, 3GB DDR3 RAM, 500GB HDD)
Faster - £349.97
Part Number: M27CDUK (Intel® Core™ i3-380M Dual Core Processor, Windows 7 Home Premium Edition, 320GB HDD)

i3-380M 2.53 GHz / 15.6" HD Screen / 4GB DDR3 RAM, 320GB HDD / DVD Rewriter DL Super Multi / Integrated (Intel GMA X4500 3D
Webcam, Windows 7 Home Premium Edition 64-bit

Expert reviews:
A fantastic machine with excellent usability, even if the battery life is averageExpert reviews:
The keyboard is fantastic. The 15.6-inch screen is beaten by the MSI CR620-643uk, but that's only due to the latter's excellence ...If you want your photos and movies to look their best, then the G560 does a more than competent job.

Decent performance
Good usability
Good screen
Build quality
Stingy storage
Battery life

The machine's chassis is built from black plastic and there's virtually no flexibility in the panels, so the laptop will survive a bit of rough treatment on road. A cross-hatch pattern – similar to that used on the Acer but finer – has been implemented, though it's still quite a dull laptop to look at.
The integrated Intel GMA HD graphics card is also suitably powerful, so you can stream HD movies via the internet and even carry out some basic video editing
Battery life: 201 minutes
MobileMark 2007: 222
3DMark 2003: 3496

- The 250GB of storage is a little stingy, though, and the lack of an HDMI port for hooking up to an external HDTV or monitor is a shame.