Who does not love lithe ultrabooks? However, we often end up getting mainstream laptops instead, simply because they are affordable and versatile.
The Asus VivoBook K451LN falls in the latter camp, but at least it makes a valiant attempt to exude an ultrabook vibe.
It does so by using aluminium for the lid and palm rest, although the bottom of this laptop is plastic. The sides of the VivoBook are also curved to make it look svelte. However, this illusion was broken when I picked up this rather heavy 2.2kg, 14-inch laptop for the first time.
Overall, this is a competent machine. With a capable Core i7 Intel mobile processor, dedicated graphics chip and 750GB hard drive, it felt zippy when running applications and surfing the Web. With the Chrome browser, for instance, it felt responsive even when multiple browser tabs were open.
It even comes with a DVD combo drive, bucking the trend of PC makers who exclude this feature on laptops.
More mundane are specs like the lowly 1,366 x 768-pixel screen resolution and viewing angles which are less than those in laptops that use in-plane switching technology. It also does not support touch.
The keyboard flexed slightly during typing, which can be a bit disconcerting. The keys felt mushy and shallow.
Pressing a special short-cut key opens up an Asus application that gives a quick overview of the laptop. It shows the amount of free space left on the hard drive, and you can adjust the display and audio settings. These proprietary settings give users a greater degree of control.
With the optical drive taking up a chunk of space, the VivoBook does not have room for many ports.
There are three USB ports and HDMI is the only option for connecting to an external display. For those who prefer wired connections, this laptop also has an Ethernet port.
The 750GB hard drive provides ample storage capacity. A small 8GB flash memory cache ensures that this laptop wakes up promptly from sleep.
The onboard Nvidia GeForce GT 840M graphics chip is an entry-level model, but this laptop is able to run games such as Bioshock Infinite smoothly due to the low native screen resolution. I got around 31 frames per second with the graphics setting at "Very High".
Battery life is poor at 4hr 42min. It pales in comparison with the more than six hours chalked by another mainstream laptop, the Dell Inspiron 14 5000 Series.
A mainstream laptop that tries to look like an ultrabook. It has useful features, such as an optical drive and dedicated graphics chip.
Processor: Intel Core i7-4510U (2GHz)
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GT 840M 2GB DDR3
Screen size: 14 inches, 1,366 x 768 pixels
Connectivity: 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, HDMI, Ethernet port, SD card slot, combo audio jack
Battery: 48 watt-hour
Value for money: 3/5
Battery life: 3/5
This article was first published on Dec 24, 2014.
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