Asus N56VM 15.6in notebook review
Audio enhanced entertainer complete with a separate sub
A good journalist always tries to avoid clichés, but sometimes when I’m writing laptop reviews I do find myself reaching for a few stock phrases, such as: the speakers are crap. Imagine my relief, then, to discover that the speakers on the Asus N56VM don't fall into the crap category, but are actually rather good, no doubt helped by the fact that this laptop even comes with its own external sub-woofer.
Sound idea: Asus' N56VM
Undoubtedly, the N56VM is focused on entertainment, offering a good set of multimedia features in addition to that unusual 2.1 speaker set-up. Things get off to a good start with the matt finish 15.6in screen, with its 1920 x 1080 resolution. It’s not the brightest screen I’ve ever seen but the viewing angle is still good – close to Asus’ claimed 150-degrees – so you can slump on the sofa and watch your films without having to set the laptop at just the right angle.
Blu-ray spinner on-board
Asus has also included a Blu-ray drive to make the most of the HD display, along with both VGA and HDMI interfaces for hooking it up to a larger monitor or TV screen. And, in addition to the headphone and microphone sockets, there’s a special audio connector for the little sub-woofer.
You can use the laptop’s built-in stereo speakers on their own without the sub-woofer, and even then they sound better than any other laptop speakers that I’ve heard recently. Higher frequencies manage to avoid the harsh, tinny edge that afflicts most laptops. The overall sound is fuller and warmer too, and does a decent job of rendering multi-layered Queen harmonies.
The sub gets its own output port to the left of the VGA interface
And, of course, plugging in the sub-woofer – which is about the size and weight of a small tin of beans – adds a little more body to the bass. It’s obviously not going to have the roof rattling, but it does make a noticeable difference on bass-heavy tracks like Kylie’s Can’t Get You Out Of My Head.
A separate sub is perhaps not the most elegant approach to getting more bass from a laptop, but it's certainly an effective one
The sub-woofer is just about small enough to slip into a backpack or briefcase when you’re travelling. However the N56VM weighs 2.7kg on its own, so you’ll probably want to leave the sub-woofer back home most of the time. Even so, the basic stereo speakers are certainly good enough for some casual music listening – which is something of an achievement in itself.
Next page: Max headroom
A matte finish screen!
I'd buy it if it wasn't for the price. I'm fed up with gloss finish screens, which seems to be all there is nowadays.
I got this the other week for £699 from Comet (which it still is, according to their website).
I wanted an screen with a half-decent resolution, as doing dev on the usual rubbish 768 vertical is not a pleasurable experience. With it's full HD resolution, this laptop is a rarity in the PC market.
Apart from that, it seems pretty nippy to me, but it's early days yet.
Keep it up Reg, this is a laptop that some of us might find useful.
This is actually a very good development computer, certainly in the 16G RAM version. 1920 by 1080 screen, supports second monitor, numeric keypad, put databases on an external USB3 hard drive and the performance with SQL Server 2012 is rather good. I bought it to do .NET, J2EE and SQL Server development, and it replaces a substantial tower that wan't really luggable. You will need to throw away Home Premium and put on a more suitable OS, but it still comes in cheaper than an HP portable workstation, and is cooler and faster.
As for battery life, during meetings it runs for over 4 hours just collecting email, checking facts etc., which is adequate. Longer when it's connected to the projector. It also has one of those handy USB sockets that still charges your phone when the computer is off.
I'm nearly tempted, though I still think that at least x1200 is needed on something big enough to have a numeric keypad.
What happened to the battery, lads? seems a very odd result.