Given the 15.6-inch space the Asus V550C has to work with, ASUS has unsurprisingly found room for a full-sized keyboard and numberpad. This means that typing is pretty easy to get used to, and you should be writing at your usual speed in no time.
We did find that the relatively short height of the keys meant that the laptop would occasionally fail to pick up keystrokes when typing at real speed, but it’s not too distracting. As you would expect for a laptop in this price range, there’s no backlighting on the keys which will make typing in low light conditions that bit more difficult.
The size of the laptop also allows a great deal of space for a generous sized touchpad, which means that for the most part it works really well. As with most 15-inch laptops, the touchpad is indented to the left of the laptop to the centre of the space bar, but somehow it’s not as distracting as its been on other computers.
The size of it makes pulling off gestures nice and easy, and it’s got plenty of space for accurate cursor movements. You can easily get from one side of the screen to the other in swift one movement, and it has a small line on it to show you exactly where left click and right-click are separated.
The fact that the speaker section sticks up around a quarter of an inch from the laptop base gave us hope that it try and replicate the rich audio of a soundbar, but sadly the V550C’s sound is tinny as most laptops. A little disappointing, but what you’d expect from a machine in this price bracket.
The ASUS V550C is a decent all round-package, but it doesn’t really excel at anything. It’s thin and attractive, the battery life is okay and performance is decent. Whether or not this is the £500 laptop for you depends on what you’re looking for.
The Toshiba Satellite C55-A-12U offers a lot more performance bang for your buck, even able to play Crysis 2 in a limited way, but comes in a bulky, cheap, plastic casing and has the worst battery life we’ve ever seen. If you want something smaller and lighter with a surprising graphical kick, the Samsung Activ Book 9 Lite (the cut down version of the Activ Book 9 Plus we raved about) comes with an 128GB SSD, Radeon graphics and a 6 hour battery life, albeit in a 13.3-inch shell. If you can cope with less hard disk and screen space and want something super portable, that is certainly the better option.
A solid laptop for under £500 that doesn’t disappoint, but fails to excel either. You can get more powerful and more sleek laptops in the same price bracket, but the V550C occupies the nice middle ground well.