By including a large screen, the N50Vc obviously isn't going to win any awards for easy portability, but it's not overly big, with a footprint of 369 x 276mm and measuring 2.9mm at its thinnest point and 43mm at its thickest. At at 2.95kg, it's not exactly a commuter's best friend, but it's fine if you're not planning on carting it too far.
Decent array of ports
On the N50's right side next to one of the three USB ports, in the spot you'd usually find the DVD drive, Asus has gone one better and included a Blu-ray compatible unit so you can play HD movie discs as well as burn CDs and DVDs. The screen resolution isn't high enough to show 1080p movies without downscaling, but you can hook it up to a big screen TV thanks to the HDMI port situated over on the other side.
As well as a HD hookup, down the left-hand side you'll also find Gigabit Ethernet, VGA, two USB, four-pin Firewire, ExpressCard, eight-in-one card reader and power ports and slots. Headphone and microphone sockets are round the front next to a - somewhat bizarrely positioned - eSATA port. Wireless connections are well catered for, with both 802.11n and Bluetooth built in.
One thing it has that you probably won't find on other laptops is a built in air ionizer which, according to Asus, not only cleans the air around the user of allergens and germs but also helps increase air flow and circulation. It all sounds like a bit of a gimmick, although to be fair at no point did we get sick while using the laptop, so make of that what you will.
There's also a quick-launch Linux-based ExpressGate interface from Splashtop that will have you up and running in just eight seconds and provides fast access to basic apps like a web browser, music player and photo viewer.
Blu-ray Disc included
The NV50's powered by a 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5800 chip, with 3GB of DDR 2 memory thrown in for good measure. Graphics come from an Nvidia GeForce 9300M chip, complete with 512MB of video memory, and it packs a huge 320GB hard drive, although it's only a 5400rpm unit.
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.