An affordable ultrabook impersonator.
Street Price: $695 | By: Asus
Easily mistaken for a boring run-of-the-mill laptop, the ASUS VivoBook is an affordable option with a range of extra features. For a start, it has a touchscreen, is only 2cm thick, has a large array of ports and a sleek, wedge-shaped chassis. Our test model used a 1.8GHz Core i3-3217U CPU paired with a rather massively-overkill 6GB of RAM. No discrete GPU is included, but the Intel HD 4000 graphics do a passable job and can handle a little casual gaming. It has a standard 320GB HDD, but no optical drive and the 14-inch touchscreen runs at a standard 1,366 x 768.
In use, the ASUS is very responsive and our review unit had no real bloatware installed to slow things down. While the trackpad is large and accurate, the keyboard is a springy mess that’s best avoided for long typing sessions. The screen is vibrant and bright, and better yet, it’s covered in a glossy panel of glass from edge to edge. This makes using the touchscreen easy, though it picks up fingerprints and smears quickly. Audio quality from the built-in speakers is slightly above average, although it lacks the crispness of more expensive models.
The battery life isn’t exactly standout, but we managed 3 hours and 36 minutes in our tests. You also get a webcam, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, HDMI out, VGA port, LAN connector, three USB ports (though only one USB 3.0), a card reader and a 3.5mm headphone jack. At only 1.85kg it’s also very portable.
While the VivoBook uses lower-end hardware, it’s at a level where Windows 8 is fast and responsive, without power you don’t need going to waste. Thanks to the quality build and slim form, you could easily convince people it’s an ultrabook. Amazingly, if you shop around you can pick up the S400CA for under $700, which in our books makes it a great bargain.
Pros : Inexpensive, slim, responsive.
Cons : Average battery life, no SSD, poor keyboard.
Rating : 7 out of 10.