You probably would not associate Asus with business laptops. But the company is starting to make inroads into this segment with solid models.
In fact, the last Asus business laptop we tried - the AsusPro Essential PU301LA - impressed us sufficiently that we gave it the Digital Life Award for Best Business Laptop.
Expectations are higher this time with the new AsusPro Advanced BU201LA. The 12.5-inch business workhorse looks ideal for those who need a mobile and relatively lightweight laptop.
Not only is it portable enough at around 1.3kg, but the laptop also comes with built-in LTE connectivity.
The SIM card slot is, however, hidden by the removable battery. You need to switch off the laptop and remove the battery before you can access the SIM slot.
The dual-cell battery seems fairly lightweight. Rated at 32 watt-hour, it lasted a disappointing
3 hr 35 minutes in our video-loop battery-life test. The bright and high-resolution screen probably contributes to this dismal showing.
With a plain, matte black exterior, this laptop looks professional. It is also apparently rugged enough to pass United States military standards (MIL-STD-810G). Asus says the BU201LA has a stronger hinge than typical laptops and is better equipped to survive being dropped.
The company adds that the lid is reinforced with carbon fibre. But it does not feel as rigid as aluminium - I could twist it easily. However, it is likely that this flexibility is what keeps the screen intact in the event of a drop.
The hard drive, too, is protected by shock absorbers, while a motion sensor detects sudden movement and acts to secure your data. But I would recommend upgrading to a solid-state drive, if possible. The 5,400rpm hard drive is fairly slow, affecting the overall performance. The BU201LA scores 2,880 in PCMark 7, which is low for an Intel Core i7 vPro processor, albeit it being a last-generation chip, with 8GB of RAM.
Surprisingly for a business model, the screen has excellent viewing angles because it uses in-plane switching technology. The screen is non-reflective and boasts a 1,920 x 1,080-pixel screen resolution.
The backlit and spill-resistant keyboard has excellent key travel for a laptop. Like many business laptops, it has a pointing stick.
Other business-focused features include a fingerprint reader, Smart Card slot, Trusted Platform Module for hardware encryption and support for an optional docking station.
With its compact design and extensive features, the BU201LA reminds me of the Lenovo ThinkPad X250. But the ThinkPad has pedigree and a more affordable starting price at $1,999, even if its specifications are inferior to those of the AsusPro, which costs $2,398.
This laptop cements Asus' growing reputation for business laptops, but it needs a higher capacity battery. A more attractive price would help too.
Processor: Intel Core i7-4650U (1.7GHz)
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5000
Screen: 12.5-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels
Connectivity: 3 x USB 3.0, VGA, mini-DisplayPort, Ethernet port, SD card reader, SIM card slot
Battery: 32 watt-hour
Value for money 3/5
Battery life 2/5
This article was first published on Apr 15, 2015.
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