"Excellent i3 powered laptop for the money"4.0 starson by jrsheppa
Pros: Very fast and multi-tasks very well
Very good cooling system
Lightweight for its size
HDMI and eSATA
Cons: No backlit keypad (not that I expected it)
Casing shows fingerprints easily
Battery life is sub-par
Summary: I went into buying a new computer thinking I was definitely going to bite the bullet and buy a Mac desktop or Pro, even though they are unbelievably over priced. However, after doing some deal shopping I came along this Asus. Granted the price I paid for a refurb version ($400) is well under the MSRP and my review will reflect the value at the price I paid.
A little about me as a buyer: I hate the idea of desktop replacements so I wanted either something lighter weight or standard if I was getting a laptop. Therefore, if I decided to buy a laptop I wanted it to be portable enough for me not to feel encumbered. However, most of the time I just leave my computer on my coffee table so ultra portability was not high on my priority list.
First the negatives: Aesthetically, the laptop is relatively bland and attracts fingerprints like moths to a flame. The computer is very wide. The keys are really tough to see in a dark room, especially if the screen is on full brightness (which I do not recommend for power saving purposes). The battery life is poor. You can tweak it so that it gets more juice but the max it can get seems to be around 3.5 hours so if portability is a primary purchasing point, I do not recommend it.
Positives: There are a lot in my opinion. Hardware wise, this computer is good bang for the buck. 4GB RAM, 500GB HD, i3, with HDMI and eSATA puts this computer ahead of the curve for laptops in this price range.
Multi-tasking is a dream. I have been streaming video, downloading video from 2 other sources and running a DVD ripping program on top of iTunes and the internet and I have never had a hiccup. It also seems to run Apple programs well too.
For its size, it feels pretty light actually, but that is probably since most of the parts are plastic. One surprisingly nice feature was that the computer seems to run very cool, or at least has a very efficient cooling system. The Exhaust port is on the left side so the bottom as negligible to no temperature difference while running.
The screen is surprisingly vibrant and does a great job with color and contrast. It has a glossy finish, which I like better than matte. I think it is an excellent device on which to watch a movie. I have not had any problems with the speakers like some reviewers have mentioned. They are not as good as Apple but I thought they did a great job for a laptop (I usually listen with headphones though).
Finally, I was slightly worried in buying from Asus since a friend of mine said they do not have as good a reputation as some companies like Lenovo. I am glad to report so far that it has been a wonderful machine which has lived up to my expectations and even exceeded them in some areas. I was also happy to learn after the fact that Asus has one of the lowest fail rates among PCs
Hope this helps others decide.