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Ergonomics, Usability and ASUS Power4Gear

In general, notebooks are not as comfortable as desktops. However, in the recent years other good sides of mobile computers started to force out difficulties with their ergonomics. Notebook manufacturers also began to pay more attention to improving usability of their products.

Unlike other makers of notebooks and some keyboards, the vast majority of keyboards featured on ASUSTeK’s laptops do not have “thin” keys. All keys are big and are very comfortable to use. You will hardly achieve speed of typing on a desktop  PC (provided that you have a good keyboard) on your ASUS S5200NE notebook, but you will almost surely be able to type fast.

There are no “quick-launch” buttons on the notebook, however, there is a way to substitute them. There is “Fn” (function) key located in the lower left corner of the notebook. By pressing it along with F1 to F12 keys users can control certain functions:

  • Fn+F1 suspend switch;
  • Fn+F2 Wireless LAN switch;
  • Fn+F3 e-mail client;
  • Fn+F4 Internet Explorer;
  • Fn+F5 Brightness down;
  • Fn+F6 Brightness up;
  • Fn+F7 LCD on/off;
  • Fn+F8 LCD/CRT/TV-out switch display;
  • Fn+F9 Touch-pad On/Off;
  • Fn+F10 Volume on/mute;
  • Fn+F11 Volume down;
  • Fn+F12 Volume up.

Using such functionality is pretty easy. Once pressed, a special icon emerges on the screen and allows you to control what you are doing.

There is ASUS’ proprietary Power4Gear button in the upper left corner above the keyboard. By pressing it you regulate performance, power consumption and battery life of your notebook. Generally speaking, this is a nice capability, as it allows to better control your computer without any special utilities.

As we mentioned in one of our previous issues, the ASUS Power4 Gear has 4 profiles:

  • Max Performance uses no tricks for saving any power – you get the maximum performance, but only when the notebook receives power from the wall outlet. Otherwise, this profile is unavailable;
  • High Performance also gives you enough computational power and you can use it when the notebook works from its own integrated battery. This profile differs from “Max Performance” as it reduces the brightness of the LCD panel by 27% and is more flexible in reducing the processor frequency by SpeedStep technology;
  • Medium Performance reduces the screen brightness to 46% of the maximum. Besides that, Windows settings are adjusted so that the notebook could enter the Stand By mode sooner and the LCD panel and the hard disk drive were turned off quicker when the user is inactive. Moreover, the maximum processor frequency in this mode equals 480MHz;
  • Max Power Saving features the longest battery life time. The processor performance and the brightness of the LCD panel are both at the acceptable minimum.

Max Performance and High Performance modes are available for the user when the notebook works from the wall outlet. When the notebook is powered by the battery, you can enable only three modes, save for Max Performance. The utility also allows creating your own power consumption profiles, so the Power4 Gear technology is quite valuable.

The standard battery of ASUS S5200NE has a capacity of 24WHr. ASUS believes that the notebook works about 2.8 hours in Max Power Saving mode with this battery pack.

Noise factor of the S5200NE notebook is definitely not an issue. The external drive does not generate a lot of noise or vibration, while internal cooler of the ASUS S5200NE turns on only when the computer performs resource-consuming tasks. The cooler generates neither a lot of noise nor substantial vibration, therefore, if you watch MPEG4 films with headphones, there is no point to worry about vibration and noise.

While the number of connectivity options seems to be enough, I wish there were more USB 2.0 ports. In case you use a mouse, a Bluetooth dongle and external optical drive, there would be no USB ports left. While Bluetooth solves the problem of communication with PDAs and advanced mobile phones, you may still want to use an external keyboard or connect a cell phone without Bluetooth to your ASUS S5200NE computer, but that will cause a difficulty if you do not have an USB 2.0 hub.

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