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15.6" HD (1366*768) / Intel Core i3-2350M (2.3GHz) / 4GB DDR3 / Intel GMA HD / 750GB 5400RPM / DL DVD±RW/CD-RW / Windows 7 Home Premium (64bit) / 802.11BGN / 0.3M Pixel Camera / 6 Cell Battery / HDMI / 1YR Global/1YR Accidental Damage/30-Day Zero Bright Dot/2-way FREE shipping/24-7 tech support
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The system arrived within a few days and I excitedly opened it and read through the instructions (this is out of character, but I understand the importance of first start up). The first step was running the backup (4 DVDs later..) and then I worked on removing the bloat. ASUS, like so many others, ships with a bunch of crap you don't need, though in this case it was less than I expected.
The system itself is nice and quick. I have had it playing Need For Speed Hot Pursuit (the new one) and it performs nicely. I've also had it running a Folding@Home client (see [...]) which nets around 2000 points per day. This compares to about 200-300 on my old Athlon64 Desktop machine.
- The power socket is on the left hand side about halfway between the front and the back, and the connector itself is a right-angle. This is a weird place, but is convenient. My wife's most recent Dell had a side connector and it was still damaged through leaning it on things it shouldn't be. I feel the design and location on this laptop would prevent a lot of those issues.
- The laptop feels very cool, even while pumping out very hot air through the vent. It's warm on the legs, but by no means hot like I've experienced with older laptops.
- The numeric keypad is nice, but is a little weird if you're used to the separated keypad on larger laptops or desktop keyboards. More than once I've hit the right-arrow while trying to tap zero. It can feel very crowded in that area also, with the keys from the left arrow all the way over to the ./delete key being the same size (along with those around them) so it can be difficult to place fingers without looking.
- HDMI works and carries sound with it. I had it hooked in to a 55" LCD TV a few days ago playing Need for Speed quite nicely. I didn't think to check what resolution it was at (I suspect the native resolution of the laptop's panel as it was mirroring), but it looked really nice. Others may be more picky about this than I..
All things considered this seems to be a fine machine, especially for the price, and I expect it to last for quite some time into the future.
Ports include an SD media slot, a LAN connection, three USB ports and HDMI out. Battery life is average; around 3 hours out of the box, although you can probably coax more out of it with adjustments in the Windows 7 control panel or the included ASUS desktop power management gadget. Out of the box it was relatively free of unwanted bloatware or trial versions of programs (kudos to ASUS for that).
This computer does not ship with recovery media; you'll need four DVDs when you run its built-in utility to create your own recovery kit (do this first!).
Overall, this is a solid laptop that should serve well for all but the most demanding computing needs. The color breaks it from the packs of black, silver and white machines out there! Watch for deep discounts to make this unit even more attractive.
Note: this machine's default hard drive configuration includes two logical partitions, with about 75% devoted to a "D" drive for data. I used Windows disk management tools to shrink that volume and restore all the free space to the "C" drive. This is just my preference, but it can help avoid issues with applications that struggle to remember "non-C-drive" locations for storing data files.
This A53e might be reasonably priced for what you get, but it's not quite what I think of as a 'budget' device.
A budget laptop has an i3 processor. I'm reviewing the i5.
A budget laptop has around 250-500gb memory. This has 750gb
A budget laptop doesn't have HD screen. This does
A budget laptop doesn't usually come w/HDMI or USB 3.0. This does
A budget laptop doesn't usually come w/face detection. This does
That said, the 4gb of onboard RAM is definitely budget, but also upgradeable to 8gb for only $23. The 0.3 megapixel webcam is also pretty low-rent. So, it's obviously not the top-shelf model either.
The i5 processor is the 2nd gen variant which is a significant step-up from the 1st i5, plus it has 'turbo boost' which variably kicks in. So, it's not a mid-range i5. It's closer to an i7 than an i3.
This is the coolest-running PC I've owned. The white version has a subtle design to it. I was happy to find little bloatware.
The description is inaccurate. This is an LCD laptop, not an LED. There is no onboard bluetooth. There is no dial volume control. Instead, you must click on-screen volume control & slide or use the function & f12 keys repeatedly which is less than convenient. You can't just lower the sound immediately. That *really* bothers me. Something to consider if you sneak peaks at porn in heavy rotation. The same applies to the brightness adjustments - 2 clicks & it doesn't always respond. The mouse clicker is too loud which seems kind of cheap. The speaker could be a bit louder. The webcam is below par. The screen started out bright, but seems to have gotten dimmer, even with brightness adjustment all the way up.
As with most things, I have a few gripes. Why 5 stars? A 15.6 inch, HD, 750gb, 2nd gen i5 w/turbo, stylized, dependable notebook, that comes with this type of warranty is hard to find, particularly at $560. You could pay twice as much for a Macbook that would be smaller, slower and less dependable (according to Gizmodo's 'Laptop Reliability Study'). The A53e is a steal. It has the looks and many of the specs of a more expensive model.
For $23, I purchased an additional 4gb of RAM (for a total of 8gb). The 4gigs works okay, but if you're apt to have 4 or 5 programs running at once or you're into video editing, you might want to bump it up. Even if you don't work your laptop so much, adding the extra 4gb is an easy, affordable way to future-proof your computer. Get it outta the way now. Kingston ValueRam 4GB PC3-10600 L9 204-Pin SODIMM Notebook Memory KVR1333D3S9/4G is compatible & fits perfectly. (See my review there) If you're not a techie, you needn't worry about ruining your laptop. Asus makes it very easy to understand by providing a second empty slot to add 4gb. All you need is a small Philips screwdriver & 5 minutes tops. There are brief, simple tutorials on YouTube as well. Adding RAM is the most affordable way to give some extra speed and extend your computer's relevant life. If you're strapped for cash, the 4gigs will serve you fine for a while.
A word about Windows 7. You can no longer click-drag to re-order files in a folder. You can only rename them alphabetically or numerically. I downloaded IrfanView to work around this. If you want MS Office, but wish to keep your costs under $600, download Open Office at openoffice.org. It's free and offers all the functionality.
This computer doesn't come with recovery disks, so you will need 5 dvd-r disks and an hour & fifteen minutes of your time to create them. The laptop will remind you to create them every time you turn the device on.
I made out like a bandit. I can't believe I nabbed a reputable Asus with 750gb, 2nd gen i5, 8gigs of RAM and 15.6 screen for under $600. Go ahead, shop around. You'll end up right back here for this steal. For the record, Asus & Toshiba make the most dependable laptops. HP, some of the worst.
Got any questions? Lay 'em on me.
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