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Asus W3J - 14in Dual-Core Notebook
The W3J is the second of two notebooks from Asus that have caught my eye recently. The first was the W5J, which packed a lot of power into a relatively diminutive shell thanks to a 2GHz Core Duo processor. The W5J was also noticeable for its white shell and fetching blue lights, designed to appeal to those in touch with their feminine side, or indeed females.
The W3J adds some more bulk, upping the weight from 1.6Kg to 2Kg with the standard battery and 2.2Kg with the extended battery, but for that you gain an extra two inches of diagonal screen size, (14in instead of 12in) and a far more powerful graphics chipset, an ATI Mobility Radeon X1600, which makes games a realistic option. Asus touts it as gaming on the go it and I think it would be churlish to disagree. The concept is pretty similar to the Zepto notebook that Spode reviewed here, though that machine featured an nVidia GeForce Go 7600 chip.
Before you get to the specs though the first thing that will impress about the A3J is the appearance. With its brushed metal exterior and metallic grey and silver finish, it's almost as good looking as the sleekest Sonys. There are also some neat touches that make it look a bit special. Down the sides of the notebook, alongside the keyboard is a row of hotkeys that are flush with the metal edging, - it looks good. The ubiquitous blue lights are also put to good use, with indicators for AC power, battery power, hard disk activity and Wi-Fi. The coolest touch though is the power button with a glowing blue backlight that's built into the hinge on the right hand side.
The trackpad that sits below the keyboard is surrounded in by a greyish silver, but I'm not sure about that polka dot covering. There's also an indicator on the right hand side for the scroll bar. The mouse buttons are unusual is that it looks like a single button but it works as normal depending on where you press.
The relatively compact nature of the notebook means that the keys are quite close together but everything is logically placed. The Enter key is well sized, as is the backspace key, while the Page Up and Page Down keys are laid in a line down the side. The arrow keys are squeezed in underneath the Enter key, while the Function key is at the bottom far left. The keyboard has a pleasingly firm base but the keys themselves have a slight rattle to them - I'd rate it as good but not superb.