ASUS W1J00Ga Notebook Review: Upgraded Top-Model

This article is devoted to a new top model in the ASUS W1 laptop family. It retained the excellent design, good ergonomic and functional qualities of its predecessor, but acquired much better performance, better LCD matrix with high brightness, good contrast ratio and color reproduction. All in all it is not only a stylish and eye-catching device, but also a full-featured entertainment center in an elegant notebook case.

by Galina Sudareva
03/31/2005 | 10:31 AM

Information technologies are constantly and rapidly evolving, so it’s no wonder the configuration, ergonomics and even exterior of notebooks becomes obsolete with time. Sometimes it takes a very short while for a notebook to find itself lagging behind the times.

 

This situation is natural and wouldn’t be troublesome at all if it were not for the limited upgrade opportunities portable computers propose. That’s why the manufacturers are periodically updating not only the characteristics of particular models but even their whole series of notebooks, trying to keep up with the progress in notebook-making.

A good example of my point is the updated version of the top-end W1B00Na model from ASUS with its original design and integrated TV tuner (for more details please read our article called First ASUS Notebook with a Built-In TV-Tuner: ASUS W1B00Na Family).

The new, W1J00Ga model has advanced in the configuration (it is equipped with a different central processor, hard disk drive, memory and graphics controller) and its performance has grown up, too, while the exclusive and attractive design has remained here, with the same ergonomics and functionality.

Let's take a closer look at this solution now!

Design and Ergonomics

The exterior of the ASUS W1J00Ga has at least one definite advantage. Having rather large dimensions, this notebook remains thin and elegant. The metal case made of aluminum alloy is colored silver with black plastic inserts on the sides, while the straight lines and sharp angles add certain strictness to the overall appearance of this model.

The design and ergonomic properties of the ASUS W1J00Ga repeat those of the ASUS W1B00Na, so you can refer to my review of the latter model for a detailed description. I’m going to limit myself here with the most significant changes as well as with the connectors, ports etc.

A major update happened to the widescreen display: the LCD matrix with a diagonal of 15.4 inches, a maximum resolution of 1280x800 (WXGA) and a non-standard aspect ratio of 16:10 now has a higher contrast ratio, and good brightness and viewing angles. This has become necessary as this model is intended for work as well as for entertainment, i.e. for watching TV programs, playing DVDs and CDs, video clips and audio files. The brightness of the screen is controlled with functional keys; an onscreen scale shows you the current brightness setting as you’re changing it.

On the front panel, besides the two stereo-speakers, there are:

The left side of the ASUS W1J00Ga contains the following things, covered under a special magnet-held plastic gag:

On the right panel you can find the following:

At the rear panel, there’s only a battery cell.

At the bottom of the notebook, there is a hard disk drive bay, memory and miniPCI slots, and an integrated subwoofer.

All the communicational capabilities of the ASUS W1J00Ga are listed in the following table:

ASUS Mobile Theater has grown up – it’s now version 2.1. This application helps you to quickly and easily switch between other applications and control the selected mode for watching TV programs or photographs, playing DVDs or CDs, video clips and audio files.

Configuration

The ASUS W1J00Ga can be regarded as an upgraded W1B00Na, so I put the technical characteristics of both notebooks into the following table for a better comparison:

As you can see, the ASUS W1J00Ga comes with a faster central processor for more overall performance – now it is the Intel Pentium M 755 with a frequency of 2.0GHz. The amount of system and disk memory has also been extended, to 1GB and 80GB, respectively. More exactly, the W1J00Ga has two memory slots, one of which of occupied with a 512MB module (the maximum supported amount of memory is 2 gigabytes). This slot is located at the bottom of the case, under a special cover. We couldn’t find the exact position of the second slot. It’s probably below the keyboard, under the metal plate you can see in the snapshot below (on the right):

 

The W1J00Ga also features a more advanced graphics controller, ATI Radeon Mobility 9700, with 64 megabytes of dedicated graphics memory.

I used an infrared thermometer to measure the temperature of the surfaces of the ASUS W1J00Ga when it was crunching through Multimedia Content Creation Winstone 2004:

Testbed and Methods

I checked the performance of the ASUS W1J00Ga out in Microsoft Windows XP Professional with DirectX 9.0c installed. Before the tests I disabled power-saving and network services, the audio subsystem, antivirus software, and screensavers. The notebook was tested at the maximum screen brightness setting and at the maximum resolution of the LCD matrix.

I used two power modes in my tests. First, I selected the Always On power mode for the maximum performance and the shortest battery run-down time. Then, I switched to the Max Battery mode for the maximum battery run-down time.

Our tests:

  1. Performance benchmarks: synthetic (SiSoftware Sandra 2005, PCMark 2004), office and multimedia (Business Winstone 2004, Multimedia Content Creation Winstone 2004), games (3DMark 2003 3.40, Quake 3, Unreal Tournament 2003);
  2. Battery life tests (Battery Eater Pro 2.50).

Performance

The ASUS W1J00Ga did well in synthetic SiSoftware Sandra 2005 and PCMark04 tests that are intended for benchmarking the performance of the entire system as well as of its subsystems. The results are tabled below:

Quite expectedly the notebook suffers an almost twofold performance hit when powered up by its own battery (see the second column of the table) because the frequency and voltage of the central processor is reduced in the power-saving mode.

To check out the performance of the notebook in office and multimedia applications I used Business Winstone 2004 and Multimedia Content Creation Winstone 2004 tests that run scripts of the following real applications: Internet Explorer, Outlook, Word, Excel, Access, Project, Power Point, Front Page, WinZip, Norton AntiVirus Professional Edition (these are tested by Business Winstone 2004) and Windows Media Encoder, Photoshop, Adobe Premiere, NewTek LightWave 3D, Steinberg WaveLab, Dreamweaver MX, Macromedia Director MX (tested by Multimedia Content Creation Winstone 2004). The results of these tests are the more important because these programs are the most likely candidates for running on a notebook.

The results follow:

Well, the configuration update has its positive effect: the results are high enough. Subjectively, this notebook is really fast not only in office, but also in multimedia applications (well, it would be strange otherwise – the technical characteristics of the W1J00Ga model are top-notch). Before running the gaming tests, I want to show you a diagram based on the data from the table above:

The ASUS W1J00Ga is quite fast in games – as we might have expected from a discrete ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 backed up with 64 megabytes of dedicated graphics memory. I ran Quake 3 with two graphics quality presets:

The results are presented in the following table:

At the low graphics quality settings the frame rate produced by the ASUS W1J00Ga is about 64% higher than at the high settings. The next diagram shows the same numbers in a visual way:

3DMark 2003 3.40 and Unreal Tournament 2003 also run fast on this notebook. Of course, the performance of the computer goes down when it’s working on its own battery, yet I didn’t notice considerable slowdowns. So, you can play 3D games and work with 3D graphics on the ASUS W1J00Ga even autonomously.

The results of the notebook in these two tests follow below:

The ASUS W1J00Ga performed up to my expectations in Battery Eater Pro 2.50 which measures the battery run-down time of portable computers. That is, the results are rather average, but this notebook isn’t actually intended for long work in the field or for frequent trips. As usual, I performed the battery life tests in several modes:

The results are tabled below:

So, this notebook can last on its battery as long as 1 hour 41 minutes in the classic mode, 2 hours and 30 minutes in the reader’s mode, and 1 hour and 42 minutes in the DVD mode, and this at the maximum brightness of the screen.

Conclusion

Well, I think I like the results of the “rejuvenation” ASUS performed on its older notebook model. The new ASUS W1J00Ga has retained the excellent design, good ergonomic and functional qualities of its predecessor (and I don’t think there’s anything calling for improvement in this notebook at all), but the changes in the configuration were a necessary measure due to the demands of the times and the progress in the notebook market. The performance of the notebook has increased considerably. Other improvements about the ASUS W1J00Ga are the new and better LCD matrix with high brightness, good contrast ratio, satisfactory viewing angles and color reproduction. The Mobile Theater utility has also grown up along with the notebook – to version 2.1

Of course, you can find some minor defects in this model, too. I’d even say they’ve been inherited by it from the predecessor. The plastic magnet-held gag that covers the ports and connectors on the left side of the notebook’s case makes it not very handy to use the card-reader, for example.

But on the whole, the ASUS W1J00Ga can truly be called a top-model, as it’s not only a stylish and eye-catching device, but also a full-featured entertainment center in an elegant notebook case.