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Asus A7S – Santa Rosa - First Look

When it’s on, it has more to recommend it. Its hefty 17in TFT screen is impressive though the resolution is only 1,440 x 900. I find that this resolution is a poor halfway house between 1,280 x 768 and the far preferable 1,680 x 1,050, though I know that on a 17in notebook Riyad would be more than happy to see 1,920 x 1,200. The reason that Asus gave me for the relatively low resolution is that it is responding to customer feedback, who wanted to be able to play games at native resolution, which wouldn’t be possible if the res was higher. This is definitely true of the 8400 G, which is has to be said turned in a poor performance of only 1,005 in 3DMark 06. As such, despite the new GPU, I wouldn’t really consider this a proper gaming machine.

The viewing angles on the screen are as fairly average but the high gloss screen does bolster colours and contrast for video. A webcam is integrated into the top of the screen, so you don’t have to bolt on a camera. However, the quality is only average. The speakers are also pretty loud, which is important for a machine that you’ll want to watch films on.

As I sat in front of the machine, I noticed that the webcam does not sit at the centre of the screen. This is because the keyboard on machine is full size, by which I mean that it has a numberpad on it, which is quite unusual for a notebook, but makes sense for a desktop replacement. However, as a consequence it means that the keys themselves are actually on the small side, which is rather odd. The keys also had a rather rough feel to them. Having said this though I found it was very accurate to type on and offered just the right amount of travel. I felt comfortable though the large notebook does give you plenty of elbow space.

Down the left hand side of the keys are a row of small, round, silver shortcut buttons. Pressing each one brings up a cool on screen graphic representing your action. The top one turns off the trackpad. The next cycles through the various Asus Splendid video modes, which alter colour and brightness. The next launches an Asus VoIP application, while the bottom one cycles through the power profiles, such a Quiet Desktop or High Performance.

The trackpad is a rather non-descript affair that does its job, while the mouse buttons below are just a tad harder to press than I would have liked.

At the front edge of the notebook there are shortcut buttons blended into the lip. The one marked Media not surprisingly launches Windows Media Center, part and parcel of Windows Vista Home Premium. Next to this are Skip and Start/Stop buttons. To the right are lights shining through from inside for power, battery and wireless.

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