My travelling companion for the past four years is slowing down. Sluggish in the mornings and quick to tire in the afternoons, my Sony Vaio is not the machine it was. Not even a new battery has put a spring in its step. So it’s time to find a new laptop. I want a 13.3in screen, a good battery life and an optical drive. I don’t need much. No bells or whistles. I’ll only be using it for word processing, surfing, organising contacts and storing music. Netbooks are too small – but I like their stripped-down functionality.
Any ideas on a decent machine that will withstand a bit of bumping around (I know the optical drive will pack up after a while – but they are useful when you are on the road and someone has a disc of pics etc) and costs less than £500?