Unusually for ASUS’s products and for 15-inch form-factor at large, the M50Sv is equipped with a full-size 99-key black keyboard.
The keys move rather softly and do not rattle. The Arrow buttons are placed below the keyboard’s baseline, which makes them unlikely to be pressed accidentally. The bottom left corner of the keyboard is occupied by a Control button – that’s convenient for people who are used to Control-involving shortcuts. The numpad is separate from the main keyboard. Two Windows keys are available: the Context Menu key is placed over one key to the right of the spacebar; the Windows Logo key is to the left of the spacebar. The functional keys are smaller than others. Pause, Print Screen, Insert and Delete continue the row of the functional keys at the right. The letters are painted white, the functional keys are blue (press them together with Fn to access their additional functions).
Of course, a dedicated numpad is quite a rare thing for a 15-inch notebook, but we have some gripes about it. The numpad is adjacent to the keyboard’s mainland and differs from the standard layout. The 0 button is half its normal size while the Period (.) button is now at the top – you are going to press it instead of Enter at first. Well, it is just a matter of getting used to the new layout.
The notebook lacks separate Page Up, Page Down, Home and End buttons which are combined with the numpad.
Centered above the keyboard there are quick-launch buttons, indicators, a lighting sensor hole, and a Power button. The slim and long quick-launch buttons are placed into small depressions which looks cute. These buttons include (from left to right):
- Button to launch Power4 Gear+ eXtreme utility that offers several power modes that vary in such parameters as CPU frequency, screen brightness, Windows power management scheme, etc.
- Touchpad lock button (you may want to lock the touchpad when you are using an external mouse to avoid touching it accidentally; you can lock the touchpad using the Fn+F9 shortcut)
- Button to launch ASUS’s tool for setting up the Splendid feature
- Instant Fan PLUS button that launches a multimedia player for viewing DVDs, VCDs, video clips, photos (in the My Documents/My Pictures folder), listening to audio CDs and mp3 files.
To the right of the quick buttons there are:
- Lighting sensor’s hole (somewhat larger than the nearby indicators)
- Touchpad lock indicator
- E-mail indicator (blinking when you’ve got new e-mail; this feature requires software setup and is meant for Microsoft’s e-mail clients)
- Disk activity (indicates that the hard disk or optical drive is being accessed)
- Num Lock indicator
- Caps Lock indicator
The Power button and the indicators are based on white LEDs.
Altec Lansing speakers are placed on both sides of this group of buttons and indicators. The sound quality is good. The manufacturer quite deservedly calls it Dolby Home Theater.
The M50Sv is not the first of ASUS’s notebooks with a truly superb touchpad. The touch-sensitive panel is large and reacts eagerly to your fingers. It is centered below the keyboard and does not strain your hands. The sensitive area is sunken into the notebook’s case to prevent your finger from slipping off it. The touchpad lacks scrolling zones.
A few icons and a volume control are marked on the touchpad indicating that this device can perform two duties. Besides being a pointing device, the touchpad can be quickly switched into media player control mode – just press the Mode icon in its top right corner. When in this mode, the icons are highlighted, reporting that the touchpad is ready for multimedia work. These virtual buttons allow you to perform such standard operations as stepping the volume level up or down, reducing the screen brightness, playing or pausing a media file. Two buttons are programmable. The only problem is that you can often accidentally touch the Mode button. You can avoid this by disabling the multimedia feature in the software.
There are two buttons below the touchpad. They are stiff and click when pressed. In between these buttons there is a fingerprint scanner that works together with the Trusted Platform Module. There is no joystick for scrolling text because there is actually no place left for it.
There is a metallic piece with three indicators on the notebook’s front panel, below the touchpad’s buttons. They are visible even if the lid is closed. These indicators are:
- Power (alight when the notebook is turned on; blinking when in power-saving mode and off when the notebook is turned off or in sleep mode)
- Battery indicator (alight when the battery is being recharged; off when the battery is charged or fully discharged; blinking when the battery charge is less than 10% and the notebook is not connected to the mains)
- Wireless indicator (blinking when the integrated WLAN/Bluetooth adapter is receiving or sending out data packets)