There comes a time when all you want is a good solid meal of meat and potatoes. Not any of that packet stuff mind you, but hearty, home cooked, good quality steak and mash. Maybe even with mushroom sauce depending on how you're feeling, with perhaps a naughty wink from the server. The cook type, not the computer.
Which is a roundabout way of saying that the 14-inch Tecra R840 is the sturdy savoury serving of the laptop world — and boy is it passably delicious, in a high fibre, good for you sort of way.
Presented in respectable black with a smattering of island-style keys, a small blue track stick and a native resolution of 1366x768, it's a downplayed affair that hits all the right notes and offers a few surprises without ever getting too fancy.
Apértifs of gigabit Ethernet, ExpressCard 34, VGA, DisplayPort and wafer-thin SD card reader whet the appetite, while three flavours of USB are dished out on the sides, from your garden variety 2.0, to your greenhouse accelerated 3.0, to the genetically modified eSATA hybrid that despite its advantages has yet to gain mass acceptance.
The meat of the main dish comes in the form of the Core i5 2520M, surrounded by the spuds of a Radeon HD 6450M, 4GB RAM and 500GB HDD, garnished with 802.11n and Bluetooth, and treated to a surprising dollop of quad-band UMTS-infused 3G.
While not necessarily as exciting as flashier options, this mid-range mix leads to a thoroughly satisfying result, with 3DMark06 espousing a score of 4349, PCMark05 effusing 8201, and even our torturous
baking battery test passed muster, with an exemplary time of three hours and 42 minutes.
All for AU$2145, including a dessert of a three-year global warranty, drenched in the succulent sauce of free courier pick up and return. Or AU$3300 if you're feeling like having the more gourmet Core i7 and SSD option, but that tasty smidge of 3G will be scraped off as a result.
The Tecra R840 leaves a smile on our face, and a warm feeling in our bellies. It's not the swankiest of laptops, but it doesn't need to be. It ticks the boxes it needs to, crosses the tees and, most importantly, is perfectly, unequivocally and impressively adequate.