Asus N73SV Core i7 Sandy Bridge 17.3in laptop
Desktop replacement with B&O audio
Things are no less impressive in the sound department, thanks to an 11W amplifier and two speakers enclosed in an 80 cubic centimetre chamber. Sound processing is handled by Asus’ SonicMaster system, cooked up in partnership with those wacky Danes at Bang & Olufsen.
The B&O speakers sit inside the long aluminium grille in front of the screen
Whatever the technology, the results are very impressive. Even at maximum volume – and it’s quite some maximum – the sound is well balanced and punchy with a surprising amount of bass and stereo separation. Whether I was watching a BD of Terminator Salvation, playing Crysis or listening to Wagner, the N73 is the finest sounding laptop I have even encountered. And to make playing your movies and music a little easier, Asus has set a selection of backlit media control micro-switches into the left-hand side of the deck.
Where the overall feeling of quality takes a hit is with the keyboard. There’s a massive amount of flex especially around the centre keys. When I first stabbed at the H-key I thought some part of the internal structure was missing or I’d broken it.
The flat-top keys themselves are not particularly easy on the fingers either, nor is the keyboard back-lit and for this sort of money I’d expect it to light up like a Christmas tree. In short, if you regularly type a lot on your laptop keyboard or work in low-light you may want to look elsewhere. The multi-touch trackpad works just fine though.
Asus’ instant-on Express Gate OS can be launched from the left hand power button but the Firefox-based web browser is a horrid little affair and there’s no Skype or Pidgin, so I’m really not sure how much use this is to man or beast.