Asus N50 15in laptop
Have integrated ionizer, will purify air
Review If you just want something small and cheap to do a bit of surfing and email on, a netbook is fine. If you need to actually get some proper work done, though, the cut-down spec often isn't really up to the task - which is where something like the Asus N50Vc comes in.
Asus' N50: cool looks
Sibling of the smaller N10, the N50 features a decent-size screen and keyboard plus proper grown-up components so it's got enough grunt to do some heavy lifting, but it's still reasonably priced for a laptop and it's not too bad to look at either.
The shiny black lid is broken up by a pattern of dotted vertical lines - laid out in a pattern slightly reminiscent of the open sequence to The Matrix - although it is a bit of a fingerprint magnet and greasy paw prints will soon spoil its stylish look.
Open it up and you'll find a you'll find acres of space inside - not only has Asus managed to fit in a full Qwerty keyboard but it's also squeezed in a numeric keypad to the right. The keys are a little slimmer on the keypad than the main keyboard, but they're still usable and it's better than not having one at all. There's a good size touchpad below - offset to the left so it's centred on the main keyboard - with large left and right click buttons and a finger print reader nestled in the middle.
Above the keyboard, instead of the usual shortcut buttons there's a touch-sensitive strip with LED icons representing various buttons. It takes a while to get used to at first - especially sliding left and right to adjust the volume - but it's easy enough to use with a bit of practice.
But the battery life fails to impress
Filling most of the lid is the 15.4in display, which would make a great screen to work on if it wasn't limited to such a low, 1280 x 800 resolution. This would be fine for a netbook display, or on a 13.3in laptop, but a screen this size could easily support more pixels and still be usable. Like most screens it features a glossy finish, although it's rather more reflective than most.
I own a similar ASUS laptop...
... and the review gets it right, including the score. Mine's the M50SV (better resolution, no BluRay, faster CPU and GPU). Battery life is dreadful, cover is fingerprint magnet, screen is super shiny with lots of backlight bleed. Keystrokes occasionally fail to register (a common complaint). Fingerprint reader works, but if someone really wanted I'm sure there are a ton of my prints all over my machine perfect for making a gummy finger.
One BIG problem is the GPU cooling (or lack there-of). Doing a whole lot of nothing, CPU temp is 45 C, GPU 70 C. Ouch. Then try running any modern game, graphics driver throttles back/crashes once GPU inevitably hits 85 C. Take a look at the back cover and the cause of the problem is obvious, limited airflow to the GPU compartment. One fan cools both CPU and GPU, way more vent slots for the CPU. CPU gets majority of airflow and stays cool, so case fan doesn't cycle up (fan RPM linked to CPU temp not GPU), so GPU gets little airflow and runs hot even at idle. Genius. Can't say I'd line up to buy another ASUS without first being able to run GPU-Z or Everest.
Would have loved to see what GPU temperature readings were on the reviewed machine.
It was doing ok....
....until the weight of it was mentioned. I'm looking for a new laptop thats a bit lighter than my current old Compaq R4000. This isnt the one.
I too find 1280x800 fine for general day to day use. If you are a hardcore photoshop user then you'd obviously look elsewhere.
Comments from an Asus notebook owner
The battery life on all the recent Asus notebook models stinks. Asus really needs to address this.
The Asus fingerprint reader is especially useless - not only can it not read fingerprints reliably, the owner's fingerprints are always clearly visible on the glossy black lid in any case. :-)
Take a close look at those hinge covers, which the same design as several recent Asus models - they are flimsy plastic covers that pop off or break easily with the slightest impact. Practically every Asus notebook using this design has missing hinge covers after a year of use.
Proper grown up components?
Eh? My lovely lttle N10 plays Half-life 2, Fallout 3 quite nicely when in nvidia-gfx mode. OK, I did add an extra 1GB to bring it to 2... and it's running Windows 7b. I have to turn the settings down a bit, but it still plays games very smoothly. Bloody brilliant for long flights too - I get 4.5 - 5 hours out of the battery as well.
Oh, it also does a bit of work too - Autodesk Revit (3D Building Information Management cad app which uses Access' Jet engine - so it's more DB than cad - and will happily eat 6gb ram if you have it...) runs flawlessly, and can even cope with the small screen, something that Autocad itself, oddly, can't.
Little Point To This
With such a short runtime, you'll not be able to use it on the go for anything demanding so you might as well have had a lower performance laptop for lower cost. With the 15" screen, it's not quite fit to be a desktop replacement either.
Finally the price - outrageous. £300 should get what you're after in a short running 15" laptop, at least in the States that's a retail price with regular discounts below £250.
Granted at that price you dont' get Bluray, which you don't need since it can't do 1080p, and you don't get the discrete video chip, which is of little point since the short runtime again forces one to be plugged into an AC outlet, where one might as well have spent the difference in cost for a proper desktop gaming system video card upgrade and a 20" or larger monitor if these weren't already owned.