As the start of the school year comes rushing up both parents and students start looking at new laptops. While the former want value for money and an assurance that it will do what is wanted of it, for the latter, style is also important.
In terms of basic specification the VivoBook Max X541SA should tick all the right boxes. It is available in an attractive brushed finish in either silver/white or red/blue and has a 15.6 inch 16:9 (1366 x 768) screen, an Intel dual-core Pentium processor N3710 1.6/2.56GHz (burst), 4GB RAM and a 1TB hard drive.
If you have touch then you should have Windows 10 as it was designed with that in mind, certain things like annotations only work with touch. So a Notebook and Tablet all in one with Windows 10 should be the way to go.
The unit is 29.5x20x1.5cm and it weighs 1176grams. Unlike some devices that are tablets with an attachable keyboard this unit is the conventional Notebook design with it becoming a Tablet when the screen in turned through 180degrees and then the keyboard and trackpad – although exposed – become dead until you turn the unit back into a conventional Notebook.
This is the first unit I have reviewed that was supplied with Windows 10 pre-installed. This told me several things including the fact that my upgrade on an old notebook just before launch had not gone entirely as it should have done.
The ASUS Transformer Book T300 measures 31x19x1cm, the last figure varies from .8cm at the front edge to 1.4cm at the back edge. It weights 1425grams all these figures assume you use the unit as a notebook. It can also be used as a tablet without the keyboard when the weight is only 720grams. So let’s deal with the keyboard first. It is an 84key unit with alpha and numeric keys being full size.
The Asus Notebook X555MA is a 15.6inch screen notebook from Asus that runs Windows 8.1, it has an Intel i5 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 1TB hard disc. The price is quite reasonable so what is not to like about this offering as it even has a DVD drive?
This notebook measures 37x25.5x2cm the last figure is at the back and it slims to only 1cm at the front, it weights 2120grams. The right side has the optical drive, a USB port, 3.5mm headphone socket and an SD card socket. The front is clear as is the back the former as it is so thin the latter as the screen goes back to 135 degrees. The left side has a Kensington Lock port, two USB3 ports, HDMI and VGA sockets, Ethernet port and DC input. The viewable screen is 34x19.
I first saw this when USB3 was very new, now a number of months later it still seems new. However the thing that stuck out for me then and still does now when I finally got to review it are the superb Bang & Olufsen speakers.
The Asus Notebook N53J measures 39.5x26x4cm and weights just on three kilos. It is not just a straight back meeting a straight keyboard as the area behind the keyboard is hollowed out and the area below the screen is slightly curved at the ends for the hinges. The viewable screen is 34.5x18.5cm giving the diagonal imperial measurement of 15.6inches, the screen resolution is 1366x768. There is a rather nice webcam built into the top with an on/off switch to protect privacy.
A new netbook from Asus comes with two "firsts". One was to do with Asus while the other was a first for me.
As part of its Seashell range of products, Asus has released the Eee1015PEM. Available in a choice of white or black (the review model), this netbook is the first Asus model to feature Intel’s dual-core Atom processor within its slim line casing. With dimension of 262 x 178 x 23.6mm (W x D x H) in its closed state and weighing 1.27kg (6-cell battery included), this netbook should not inconvenience the user too much in its role as a travelling companion.
Some laptops are used as a travelling companion while others are more suited for providing your computing needs in the home. Falling into the latter category is the Asus K50IN.
While netbooks are being targeted specifically at the user who requires a travelling companion with Internet access, communication facilities and other similar features, the laptop is moving outwards and onwards with the object of usurping the desktop unit as the living room computer system.
Unlike most PC reviews that have to rushed through in only a week or so I have been allowed to keep this unit for an extended period that has allowed me to not only review it but a number of software products with it as the medium.
The Asus F70SL laptop must be considered a desktop replacement as it has a 17.3inch screen, measures 42x29x4cm and weights close to four kilos. Certainly if you carried this on public transport all day everyday then you would be a pretty fit person. The face of the lid and the area around the keyboard are a pinstripe pattern the rest is the more normal black colour.
A trend that is becoming increasingly popular is to use a laptop as a desktop replacement. Falling into this category is the Asus F70SL model.
On reflection I have to admit that reflective surfaces do not rank high in my list of attributes for a variety of devices. It is not just that they reflect images, including that of my visage, but they tend to become disfigured with finger smear and the like. However I shall put these feelings to one side as I report on the Asus F70SL laptop which definitely falls into the category of desktop replacement model.
Another in an ever increasing range of Netbooks from Asus, this one (sorry not shaped like a seashell or made from shell although they do make a different unit from Bamboo) promises 8.5hours of battery life between charges.
The latest EeePC from Asus, the 1005HA measures 26x18x3.5cm the latter is maximum at the rear feet it is 1cm less at the front feet. It weights 1290grams. Mine was black but I see they also do white. This was not sent directly to me from Asus and so some of the settings may have been unfavourably tweaked by the previous reviewer. In heavy use including attached USB devices I got four hours. In lighter use without external devices draining power it was just over six hours.
This is the second Blu-ray drive notebook from Asus that I have reviewed recently. Outwardly it seems to have everything you could want providing you have transport to ferry it about as the weight of just over 3kilos might make public transport a chore.
It is 36x28.5x4cm the depth is a maximum at the back and it is .5cm less at the front. The exact weight is 3.070 kilos. The front has headset and microphone sockets front and centre along with an E-Sata slot. The right side has the multi DVD drive (including Blu-ray) a single USB port and Kensington lock socket. The rear has nothing as the edge of the screen ducks under the back so this area needs to be clear.
Having recently reviewed a number of small and light notebooks this is somewhat of a culture shock. In fact a doubt anyone without personal transport would ever think of it as a notebook more of a desktop replacement.
Another rather nice small PC from Asus marketed under the Eee brand. The main difference that will encourage you to look at this unit is that it has a claimed working day of battery life, this is stated to be 9.5 hours. With the average battery life of most notebooks around 3 hours this is huge.
The Asus Eee PC 1000HE measures 26x19x4cm and weights 1.4kilos. The battery does not protrude but is slightly thicker than the rest causing a very slight forward slant but this just aids typing. The screen dimensions are 22x13cm giving the notional diagonal measurement of 10.1inches. The display size 1024x600 and the screen (hurrah) is not that reflective meaning in bright light you do not get that much reflection. Finally on the screen surround there is a 1.3MP webcam built in.
This seems to be a style that has been touched on by several manufacturers but that so far does not seem to be that popular. You have what looks like quite a thick TFT display and this hides the PC everything else is connected via USB.
The ASUS Eee Top 1602 measures 40x30x4cm and weights around 4.5kilos a good part of this weight is in the substantial carry handle and adjustable tilt balance that adds between 5-10cm to the 4cm depth. The screen is 35x19.5cm and gives a best resolution of 1366x768. This is Windows XP and another front ‘easy’ end for the real novice (very like the recent friendly Linux offerings) but it can be clicked away after booting. The biggest surprise is that it is also touch screen.
As well as the Eee family of netbooks and the like, Asus does have other irons in the fire. There is a video phone product, developed in conjunction with Skype, and the notebook that is the subject of this review to mention but two.
Generally when I receive a notebook for review, it has already served a similar purpose with others and arrives with the operating system up and running. However with the Asus N80V model I was granted the privilege (maybe task or something even stronger would be a better description) of working through the final stages of the installation of Vista and the accompanying software bundled by Asus.
This uses the same processor as other Netbooks, it does have decent graphics a good sized hard disc and 2GB or RAM however I am not convinced that it has enough punch to run the memory hungry Vista especially with the Norton software supplied.
It is 27.5x21x3cm mainly black with the keyboard surround in grey and silver. It looks smart. Of course the original idea of a Netbook was to give basic email, web access and word processing ability at a cheap price. The right side has PC Express slot, Headphone and Microphone sockets, a USB port, VGA outlet, Ethernet port and A/C input point. The rear has nothing apart from the battery that protrudes around 1.5cm from it along the whole length apart from the last 3cm each end.
Asus certainly created a stir when the company launched its original mini-notebook that was the flag bearer for the various netbook models that have appeared from a range of manufacturers. Now fashion forms part of the latest Asus product.
With the tag line of “Fashion-on-the-go Made Eeeasy”, Asus has released its Eee PC S101 model which will be available in various colours. The review unit featured a metallic brown top with silver crystal-adorned hinges. Despite the propensity of the top cover to attract finger prints (they are easily wiped away using a supplied cloth), the S101 has an attractive, stylish appearance. Measuring 264 x 180.
This is a tiny PC (size wise) of course if you have not got all the bits that connect then the price it costs will increase a good deal. All you get is the PC and a digital to analogue converter, so you need to find keyboard, mouse monitor/panel, CD/DVD drive and speakers.
The Asus Eee Box B202 measures 22x18x2.7cm and weights 1180 grams. Mine was black and as it is designed to work vertically looks a little like a book. All the connections are on the back and the front with the sides bare and the top and bottom having only ventilation holes. The rear has (from the top) wireless aerial, DC input, digital monitor/panel connection (as stated above digital to analogue connector is supplied), two USB ports, Ethernet port and Line In.