Little complaint can be made of the of the N53JN's performance. It's not quite a powerhouse, but it will cope more than adequately with most of what normal computing life will throw at it. It has genuine desktop replacement levels of power, and will make short work of multitasking, video editing and other CPU intensive tasks. On the whole it performs comparably to the likes of the Acer Aspire 5942G and Samsung R780.
Such performance includes a modicum of gaming ability. The Asus handled our TrackMania Nations test with ease, and even posted playable rates in the more demanding STALKER: Call of Pripyat benchmark. It doesn't have the grunt to move beyond medium detail settings in most games, and anti-aliasing will be a rare treat, but it does a solid job.
By dint of Nvidia's Optimus technology, which allows the N53JN to switch seamlessly between its more powerful Nvidia chipset and Intel's HD Graphics, the N53JN has better than average battery life for its size. In the productivity segment, for example, it lasted 226 minutes - over three and half hours. This beats the Acer and the Samsung quite comfortably, though you'll likely get closer to three hours if using Wi-Fi extensively.
Things aren't quite so emphatic in the DVD playback test, though. Here the N53JN managed a passable 124 minutes, just a shade over two hours. That's enough for most films, and you could reduce the screen brightness to get an extra half hour or more. Ultimately its weight and size renders this battery life advantage of slender benefit, but the switching ability does account for the cool and quiet nature of the machine as well.
It doesn't, however, solve our single greatest criticism of the N53Jn: its screen. In every other respect it's an outstanding multimedia laptop, one that mostly earns its price and the hype attached to its speakers. Unfortunately, given the choice between great integrated audio and a good screen, we'd choose the latter every time. After all, it is relatively easy to improve your speakers - just plug-in external ones, or use headphones - but improving a display is less practical and rather more expensive.
The Bang & Olufsen ICEpower speakers deliver handsomely on their promise, and the N53JN lacks little for performance or features, but a mediocre display is a real let down.