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Asus UL50Vg - 15.6in Laptop review

Ardjuna Seghers

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Asus UL50Vg - 15.6in Laptop
  • Asus UL50Vg - 15.6in Laptop
  • Asus UL50Vg - 15.6in Laptop
  • Asus UL50Vg - 15.6in Laptop
  • Asus UL50Vg - 15.6in Laptop
  • Asus UL50Vg - 15.6in Laptop
  • Asus UL50Vg - 15.6in Laptop
  • Asus UL50Vg - 15.6in Laptop
  • Asus UL50Vg - 15.6in Laptop
  • Asus UL50Vg - 15.6in Laptop
  • Asus UL50Vg - 15.6in Laptop
  • Asus UL50Vg - 15.6in Laptop
  • Asus UL50Vg - 15.6in Laptop
  • Asus UL50Vg - 15.6in Laptop
  • Asus UL50Vg - 15.6in Laptop
  • Asus UL50Vg - 15.6in Laptop

Summary

Our Score:

7

Until recently, affordable consumer laptops were a compromise: either you got a small laptop (i.e. with a screen of 13in or less) with good battery life, or a big one (15.6in and up) with merely decent battery life at best. There wasn't much choice if you wanted both a large screen and excellent battery life, but Asus looks to be joining Acer's Aspire Timeline 5810T in offering just that. In fact, it betters Acer's stated eight-hour battery life by a considerable margin, claiming up to an incredible 12 hours! That's especially impressive considering the UL50Vg's large 15.6in screen size, so let's see if Asus' latest can live up to the hype.

With the laptop closed, first impressions are certainly positive. At its thickest point it measures 26.4mm - a little over an inch - and like the aforementioned Timeline range, its lid is brushed aluminium. This not only looks great in both the black and silver versions, but also lends a welcome measure of extra durability, though there's just a hint more flex in the lid's centre than we'd ideally like. The angled back edge is also a nice touch.

Opening the UL50Vg up, however, is like a bucket of cold water in the face. Though the bitty hinge is not exactly pretty, the main offender here is that the entire inside is constructed using glossy black plastic, and yes, that includes the palm-rest and touchpad. So it might look good initially, but unless you wipe it down every single time after use, fingerprints, dust and grease marks will soon generously adorn the interior (though the grime won't be as obvious on the silver models in the UL series).

We simply can't emphasise enough what a bad idea glossy working areas are on a laptop. Moreover, it comes as a nasty and unexpectedly cheap looking surprise after seeing the metal lid. Chromed power and touchpad buttons don't help much either, since they’re just as partial to fingerprints as the rest of the inside.

At least the isolation-style keyboard is matt black, which contrasts nicely with its surround. However, performance-wise it's a bit of a mixed bag. On the plus side, keys are well-spaced and large enough to be comfortable, with a smooth, pleasant surface, while layout is pretty much spot-on and includes a full number-pad.

However, a minor complaint is that you're obliged to use keyboard shortcuts for everything as there are no dedicated function buttons or touch-controls. Far more serious, though, are the keyboard's feedback issues. The actual keys themselves offer good response and a nice degree of travel, but noticeable flex combines with a distracting rattle (especially towards the left edge of the keyboard) to detract from the experience.

Moving down to the multi-touch touchpad, it's large and responsive. Its heavily textured surface does provide a good feel and differentiates it from its surroundings, but at the same time is literally wearing on your fingertips. The chromed rocker switch below it is also on the stiff side.

BOFH UK

December 10, 2009, 1:42 pm

One thing I really don't get about the current batch of laptops: How the hell are companies that have been building these things for years (decades in some cases) making such god-awful keyboards and touchpads? The HP Envy is a great example as it's hardly a budget machine and yet the trackpad is meant to be absolutely terrible. And the same here, this looks like a very nice bit of kit (although if someone at TrustedReviews could maybe give us an idea of how the world of Intel laptop processors stack up in real world use these days, Atom v CULV v Celeron v C2D v i5/7 for instance, it'd be much appreciated as it's getting tricky to keep up...) but if the way you interact with the machine is poor then what's the point in buying one?

GherkingTR

December 10, 2009, 3:52 pm

According to other sites (Engadget articles, Amazon user reviews), The Asus ULv series overclocks to 1.72 Ghz. Has our UK version been hobbled? Is your test unit around to verify this please?





Looked like hot specs, shame about the design. I'm happy to have a budget name and same cash, but it looks like the Acer ULV laptop you reviewed is the one to get.

HarryGlass

December 10, 2009, 6:04 pm

@GherkinG: I'd always take ASUS over ACER, unless the price differential was really substantial. ASUS machines have far better build quality and resilliance (IMOYMMV).

TechVegan

December 10, 2009, 7:38 pm

@GherkinG:


No, the UK version has not been hobbled. Despite the website claiming this 1.72GHz overclock (referred to as Turbo33, because it's essentially a 33 per cent overclock) applies to the entire UL range, in fact it's only found on the VT models, not the VS, VT or indeed the VG reviewed here.





I have confirmed this information with Asus, though I do think it's a pity...

Hibou

December 12, 2009, 4:47 am

This review seems rather subjective. The author simply doesn't like the glossy black finish, which is characteristic of many successful laptops, and despite the objective advantages of the machine finds many other design "flaws" to niggle about. Other reviews of the Asus UL series are much more positive eg http://www.notebookreview.com/... and http://hothardware.com/Article...

TechVegan

December 16, 2009, 6:30 pm

@Hibou:


It might be characteristic of many successful laptops, but just because it's popular doesn't mean it's good. Non-adjustable monitors are also popular, does that make them a good thing?





To be fair, I was leaning perilously close to an eight for this machine, but the reasons it doesn't get one are mentioned in the concluding paragraph and its glossy finish is only one of them.





Mind you, if this model had offered the Turbo33 mode discussed above it would almost definitely have received an eight for sheer innovation alone.

ming

January 7, 2010, 7:15 pm

I have just bought a UL50vt-black that comes with Turbo33. Despite overclocked, it's still not very powerful compared to other laptop you can get at this price range. But for a slim ULV 15.6" laptop at this price, this is the best that I can ask for. NVIDIA G210 CUDA, DDR3, switchable graphics, HDMI, low power consumption, windows 7 64-bit and expressgate are the plus side. At 1.72GHz, clock speed is of average, in my opinion. There are noticeable lags on running certain application for sure. For me, these are acceptable, unless you have already get used to super-performed pc - you'll hate it.





Dear Ardjuna, your review is very good and had helped me in making this wise decision in going for this laptop, when I have compared this to other models such as the timeline and other ULV-based laptop.





The glossy finish on the inside looks great, ONLY at first look, like the author has said. The chilet design of the keyboard looks good but the keys are too "plastic". The typing feels low-class. 0.3MP camera really sucks. I am also disappointed with the lack of dedicated shortcut buttons. No slot-in drive is a pity.





Other than that, I am very happy with what this laptop could perform. I watched 2 full movies on battery in almost 6 hours with 70% brightness, full sounds, and Power4Gear "Entertainment" mode during a battery drain calibration. This really amazed me. It handles HD movie very well. The Altec speakers aren't too bad for movies, but I'll say no for music. The aluminium lid looks great too on both black and silver model.

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