on February 19, 2013
Right out of the gate, this has been an impressive laptop. No, it's not an ultrabook, but it's reasonably light, at 4.4 lbs. It also has features, like a DVD reader/burner, full size HDMI port, etc., that are lacking on many budget notebooks these days.
*Fast. Very fast. It's an i7 chipset, and it truly flies through most tasks.
*8 GB of RAM, straight out of the box. What a joy, not having to deal with upgrading.
*One of the best keyboards of this style that I've ever used. Nice feedback, responsive, and easy to type on (I so wish I had the same keyboard on my much more expensive U31)
*While not the fastest, the hard drive is huge. 1TB is almost unprecedented for a laptop.
*Great fit and finish. Everything feels solid, the screen hinges really grab (sadly lacking in many notebooks), no wobble from the screen when it's up. This is not a delicate flower of a notebook -- it's solid and substantial.
*Good port selection, including a pair of USB 3 ports. No VGA, but full-sized HDMI. Wired Ethernet.
*Backlit Keyboard w/adjustable brightness.
*Surprisingly good sound from front-firing speakers.
*ASUS Instant-On works flawlessly. Boots from sleep in seconds. (Boot from shutdown takes much longer, since the drive is not SSD, but you won't use it often. It can sleep for a month on a full charge.)
*It's quiet. I mean, really quiet, even under a load. Processor is so powerful that the fan almost never needs to run, and when it does, it's a whisper. Huge kudos to ASUS on this. It has never gotten hot on me, even transcoding video. Oh, and the exhaust is on the side, thankfully.
*Mousepad, while solid, is a bit too stiff as a clickpad, and a bit too sensitive when tapping. However, my guess is that the clickpad will loosen-up in time. It is, however, responsive and accurate.
*Screen is the standard 1366x768 LED backlit, which is fine, but it's calibrated horribly from the factory. You need patience to get it adjusted properly. Obviously not a retina display, but, as a plus, it's non-glare, and easy in any light.
*You WILL NEED to update the BIOS immediately, to version 410 or above. Mine came with 407, and suffered lockups until I did. Fortunately, in this day and age it isn't too hard to do, but if you're not tech oriented it might be a hassle.
*Standard bloatware, including the completely unnecessary McAfee anti-virus, and some other things. Not horrible, but you'll have a bunch to get rid of.
I know there are a lot of folks ranting about Windows 8, and this is my first machine with it installed. Took a bit to get the lay of the land, but honestly, within a day I had no problems with it. Actually, I see little difference between it and Win7, once you're in desktop mode (which is where you automatically wind up most of the time anyway). Sure, there are some quirks, and new ways to do things, but so it goes. Anyhow, I'm not rating Win 8, I'm rating the hardware.
Overall, I can highly recommend this laptop. No, it's not the sleekest or fanciest. No, it's not a touchscreen. It is, however, incredibly powerful and fast for the price, and the build quality is top notch.