This Asus business laptop has a clean design and a sombre dark look that would not be out of place in an office.
The lid is thick and has a fair amount of flex. I like its grainy finish, although grease marks show up easily on the surface.
At around 1.64kg, this 13.3-inch laptop is slightly heavier than most ultrabooks and not as slim as an ultraportable, but it does have more ports and connectors, including Ethernet and VGA.
Key travel is excellent, as the individual keys are raised much higher than the ones on a typical ultrabook. The keyboard provides a very comfortable and tactile typing experience. It is also spill resistant.
A minor quibble: I have to hold the Fn key together with the corresponding key to toggle functions such as volume control and screen brightness. Some rivals have long ago removed the need to press the Fn key.
The touchpad is larger than on typical business laptops, but I would have preferred a buttonless version.
A custom tool called Smart Gesture lets you configure the multi-touch gestures (one to three fingers) for the touchpad. Some gestures are probably already familiar if you have tried other laptops, especially those from Apple.
If not, short instructional videos help you learn these gestures.
Business laptops typically have mediocre screens and the PU301LA does not change this impression. Its 1,366 x 768-pixel matte display has viewing angles inferior to the ones on most tablets and ultrabooks.
You can surf the Web on the go as the laptop has a Huawei LTE module. A 3G or 4G SIM card with a data plan is required. The laptop battery must be removed to access the SIM card slot.
Other business-friendly features include a Trusted Platform Module chip that provides hardware encryption and a fingerprint reader.
Established business brands, such as Lenovo and HP, have their own specialised software to manage their laptops. Instead, this Asus laptop comes preloaded with Intel Small Business Advantage, which provides some basic management tools.
I was disappointed that the laptop lacked a solid-state drive. But at least its 500GB hard drive is a relatively fast model that runs at 7,200rpm instead of the usual 5,400rpm.
Like any good business notebook, it has an anti-shock feature to protect the data in the hard drive if you accidentally sweep the laptop off the desk.
Battery life is excellent at almost seven hours in Digital Life's video playback test. This uptime is much improved over the five hours we saw on an older Asus model.
A three-year international warranty is included.
Small businesses will appreciate the value provided by this affordable laptop, especially the 4G support. It helps that the design looks smart and professional.
This article was published on May 7 in Digital Life, The Straits Times.
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