ASUSTeK Computer Inc. has established a firm position in the world hardware market, supplying notebooks, computers, mainboards, graphics cards, servers and server platforms, controllers, audio cards, optical drives and what not. The Taiwan-based company owes much of its success to the quality and reasonable pricing of its products, quick response to any market changes, and competent tech service.
Today I’m going to review two new notebooks from ASUS which have come to replace the A2 series: A4B00L and A4S00G models. The former is positioned as a budget notebook for office, and the latter as a high-performance machine capable of replacing an ordinary workstation. Both notebooks are based on processors with support of Hyper-Threading technology, have a widescreen matrix and a big amount of system memory. They also offer the opportunity to quickly, easily and cheaply upgrade obsolete parts. These features will be covered in more detail below.
Design and Ergonomics
Glancing over the A4B00L or A4S00G you can immediately tell that these models are not for frequent business trips or long work in “field conditions”. They are really too big (356 x 286 x 42mm) and heavy (3.5kg) for that.
The two reviewed models have identical cases – the design and the number and type of ports and connectors are the same. So, the lids of the notebooks are colored dark gray; the area between the touchpad and the keyboard is the same color, while the screen bezel and the bottom surface are black. A light silvery bezel goes around the sides of the notebooks. The design is overall simple, but not quite harmonious.
A rather high-sensitivity microphone is integrated into the top left corner of the screen bezel. The widescreen panels of the notebooks have a diagonal of 15.4” and a maximum resolution of 1280x800 (A4B00L) and 1680x1050 (A4S00G); they are bright and good at reproducing colors. You can control the screen brightness using the appropriate functional keys; the current setting is then displayed on an onscreen scale. The brightness range is rather wide, but the minimal brightness level is of no use anyway – the screen is too dark. Moreover, you’re going to see below that the reduction of the screen brightness doesn’t bring any bonuses in terms of battery life.
On the top panel, near the right screen hinge, there is a row of buttons: a round power on/off button (highlighted with bright orange), a button to disable the touchpad (to avoid accidental touches when you’re typing text), a Power4Gear+ button (it browses between different power-saving modes), and quick-launch buttons (to quickly start up your Internet browser or e-mail client).
The system status indicators are divided into two groups and are also found on the top panels of the notebooks. The first group is located at the base of the screen above the quick launch buttons and consists of the following indicators: HDD, Num Lock, and Caps Lock. The second group is located under the touchpad’s buttons, which is not very handy as they are not visible with the lid is closed. This group includes:
- Audio DJ indicator (it lights up when you enable this feature);
- Power indicator (is aglow when the computer is on);
- Battery charge indicator;
- Incoming mail indicator (alight when you’ve got new e-mail messages);
- WLAN indicator (it lights up when the integrated adapter is receiving or sending data packets).