ASUS is set to launch their new and very affordable X-series laptop next week. Weâ€™re among the lucky few who got their hands on one of these before they launch it. Weâ€™ll let you in on a sneak-peek and our first impression of the 2012 RedDot design award winner after the break.
The Asus X401 is one of the lightest and thinnest notebook that I held in my time, excluding the ultrabooks of course. This is mainly due to its slightly tapered bottom panel and the absence of optical disc drive. That may prove to be a deal-breaker for some but with today’s technology, it may not be that much of a factor in considering this notebook. Although majority of the material is made of plastic, it doesnâ€™t feel flimsy. The design is simple yet classy without any hint of cheapness.
The X401’s back panel is coated with a scratch-resistant material which is a definite plus for me as it adds protection to usual bumps and scratches. It houses the 14â€ LED screen which a resolution of 1366×768 pixels.
On its left side, the security hole is found along with the AC port, USB 2.0 and air vent.
The right side houses a handful of ports. There’s the VGA, SD Card slot, Ethernet port, HDMI out, USB 3.0 and the 3.5mm audio port.
The touchpad is a bit unusual and will take a bit of getting used to before getting the hang of it. It is responsive and does the typical touchpad multi-touch functions like pinch-to-zoom, two finger scrolling, etc.
Typing is relatively easy and comfortable with the X401’s keyboard. This is mainly due to its one-piece, back-assembled design and well-spaced chiclet keys. The keyboard as well as the touchpad is surrounded with the same scratch-resistant material found on the LCD back panel.
The palm rest, which also has the same material as the rest of the panel, also dissipates heat thus adding to the comfortable typing experience.
The tapered bottom part houses a number of LED notification lights. The X401 comes with a 6-cell battery which is slight bulkier than the rest of the component. When attached it gives the notebook a slightly sloped look which also adds to a more comfortable typing experience.
Speaking of battery, Iâ€™m going to brush a little bit about it as well. The battery life is what youâ€™d typically expect out of a 6-cell battery, nothing really ground-breaking. With the aid of some optimizations and ASUS battery saving software, a user should be able stretch the life a little more but not that long.
In my case I was able to squeeze in 4 hours of browsing over Wi-Fi on battery efficient configuration. Not bad but definitely not the greatest weâ€™ve seen.
This laptop is equipped with what ASUS coined Super Hybrid Engine II that enables this PC to resume in 2 seconds. There is also a handful of ASUS software that aids it users in protecting their data and aids the notebook perform at an optimal rate.
In terms of speed and performance, the X401 should be able to deliver desirable performance that a user expects out of a mid-range machine .The laptop scored pretty decently on the Windows Experience Index with only a minor hit on the Windows Aero rating. Here’s the screen of the WEI results:
Performance is pretty decent as well as the battery life, nothing out of the ordinary but should be enough to take on usual tasks. As for the pricing and availability, weâ€™d have to wait for the official launch of this notebook which is just around the corner.
An Asus rep told us this unit will be a challenger in the really-affordable-notebook category. We’re guessing it will be under Php20k but it should be way less if Asus really wants a challenger. We’ll find out next week.
Editor’s Note: The demo unit we got from Asus was powered by an Intel Ivy Bridge Core i3 processor (reason why it got good WEI scores). However, they just informed us that the ones they will launch in the Philippines will only be using a Pentium Dual Core processor as they will be positioned as entry-level units. The local SKU is not yet final so we can’t also share the exact specs (prolly 2GB RAM, 320GB HDD as this is netbook levels).