If you need to use a notebook and about for long periods of time and haven't got the best part of two-grand to spend on an ultraportable machine from the likes of Sony or Toshiba, then the choices are a little limited.

We not saying the Vye Mini V Ultra S18PA is the ultimate alternative but we've been using it out on the road for the last week and once you get used to it, it's a good an option as any. And at just £699 (inc. VAT) certainly won't break the bank.

Designed to be an alternative to a UMPC (Ultra Mobile PC) but without Microsoft's Touchpack software, you'll find that it looks like a mini-Tablet PC more than anything else.

This is because the 7-inch touchscreen sits on a pivot above the full QWERTY keyboard, so can be twisted around and used in slate mode.

To be fair, we didn't really use it in this mode as the included pen software isn't that good.

The keyboard, as you would expect is a little on the cramped side but once you get used to it, you'll be surprised how quickly you can type on the thing.

Weighing in at 1kg, you can slip the Vye into your usual bag without too much trouble. When it came to using it out and about we managed to get well over 4 hours from the battery, which is better than we were expecting.

Most notebooks are too big to fit on the small tables you find on the back of train or plane seats but not the Vye, as it's the perfect size for the commute. However, the only problem we had with this machine was the weight, as it lacks the weight to stop itself from bouncing and rattling when placed on a train table.

When it comes to performance you'll find Windows XP installed, which has a smaller footprint than Vista, so the use of the AMD 500MHz Geode LX800 isn't too problematic.

This has been developed for embedded machines but it works well with the standard Windows OS. With 1024MB of memory and 120GB of hard drive space, you can use it in the same way as your standard PC. In daily use it actually proved useful, much more so than similar sized devices and it feels more like a tool rather than a gimmick.

Verdict

It's not every day that a computer frustrates you because it's too light but this is the only fault we had with the Vye Mini V Ultra S18PA.

Don't come to this machine expecting it to be a powerhouse of portability. However, if your needs are simple and you can get to grips with the size of it, it's a great machine for the daily commute – just be prepared to get the same curious/envious looks as we did.