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Asus A7S – Santa Rosa - First Look

As it runs Windows Media Center a remote is included, and though it looks a bit dated it still does a great job. It’s a shame though that Asus, with all the space available on this notebook, hasn’t been able to find room for an infra-red receiver.

Down the left hand side you’ll find an Express card slot, and above this a SDHC compliant (I tested this) SD card slot, that will also accept Memory Stick. Above that you’ll find a sliding switch to turn off the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, in addition to the software switch via the Function key. Next to this you’ll find a tiny mini Firewire slot and then three audio connectors. There’s a tiny aerial in the built-in TV Tuner and you connect a TV aerial via the adaptor cable. Asus has supplied a rather odd looking external aerial though I still wasn’t able to get any signal through it – you’ll need to be tethered for that.

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Next to this tiny connector you’ll find another one into which you plug a break out box for inputting composite and S-Video. Behind this there’s a USB port and next in line are a modem socket and the Gigabit Ethernet port. There are no ports at the rear, while on the right is the power connector and the DVD Burner. Permanent storage is taken care of a Fujitsu MHV2200BT drive – while this offers a huge (for a notebook) 200GB of unformatted capacity (179GB formatted), the caveat is that the drive only has a spindle speed of 4,200rpm, which is relatively slow – the PC Mark hard disk score really shows this.

From our performance tests the closest machine I had to put it up against was the Asus W5Fe, which sported an old T7400 – a 2.16GHz CPU on a 667 bus with a 13x multiplier, compared to the new 2.2GHz T7400, on an 800MHz bus with a 10x multiplier. The new Asus is faster in every test, which isn’t bad going considering its graphics speed is effectively slower despite it having a newer GPU. This is in part offset by it having more RAM, something Vista can’t seem to get enough of.

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As a machine then this is an impressive beast though I can’t help feel that Toshiba’s Quosmio’s range will have it licked for desirability. And as impressive as the new chip is, it will be a whole lot better when the full Santa Rosa chipset is delivered as a whole. We can only look forward to testing a fully Turbo Memory (Robson) equipped machine and for giving the draft-N a full workout, as for now this machine just teases.


Verdict

A large, powerful brute of a machine that is more beast than beauty. The new Santa Rosa CPU is fast but we’ll only really get excited about the Santa Rosa once we see Turbo Memory equipped machines.

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