- Review Price: £1749.00
Own your own private island? Check. Live in a huge mansion? Check. Lamborghini Gallardo in the garage? Check. Then you’ll probably want to add this to your collection – the Asus Lamborghini VX2. Asus, isn’t normally associated with high flying uber brands, so in a move flagrantly designed to boost its own sex appeal it has cosseted up with the Italian thoroughbred car maker to create as it says the, “unparalleled fusion… of advanced technology and astonishing design”. Of course, it’s not actually unparalleled at all. Acer has been doing the same thing with Ferrari for years and Asus has just nicked the idea. But hey, if it produces notebooks as gorgeous as this, then why not.
Personally, I’ve decided that if I found a supercar shaped amount of cash ready to burn I’d probably go for a Lamborghini over a Ferrari. After all, if you’ve got it, and you really want to flaunt it then why not do it properly. Lamborghini’s are just a bit more flash, a bit more bling and the Gallardo is just a stunning looking car.
Despite the tantalising glimpses of the Gallardo in Asus’ advertising artwork, the VX2 doesn’t really resemble a Gallardo. It doesn’t have perfectly balanced, sculpted curves or a poised aggressive stance. In fact, if I felt like being harshly dismissive I could say that when closed it’s just a laptop with a yellow lid. But that would be unfair on what is certainly a great looking machine, with many exquisite design details. The piano lacquer finish on the yellow lid is bright, smooth and elegant and it’s eye catching in true Lamborghini style. If you crave attention, this is ya boy.
The Lamborghini emblem sits proudly on the lid, with the bull logo raised, while the Asus logo is placed discreetly lower down on the left. A black honeycomb grille is located on the front, which has the look of a car radiator grille. Underneath are four lights that shine through with icons next to them that indicate when the laptop is plugged in, charging or has Wi-Fi or the integrated Bluetooth 2.0 EDR turned on. The hinge is painted black while at the top, as is the rear of the integrated webcam. Basically it’s a good looking lid.
Opening up the lid reveals a impressive widescreen 15.4in display featuring Asus’ Clear Shine technology – basically a high contrast and brightness coating, that certainly makes Windows Vista Ultimate look the part. Blues look particularly good and video was smooth. Viewing angle was pretty good too – there’s some colour shift and its better when from the sides, than it is horizontally, but it’s not nearly as extreme as some displays.
I often criticise laptop displays for not offering enough resolution but Asus had got it right with this one. It sports a generous 1,680 x 1,050 resolution, which means that there’s plenty of space for applications and multiple Windows. You’ll not find this resolution on a desktop monitor smaller than 20in so some may find the icons and text too small for working with on a 15.4 display. I don’t normally have a problem with small text but even I had to zoom the document up to be comfortable writing this on the laptop. If you ever have problems squinting at small text you may have a problem here. The only other concern is with this many pixels to drive the graphics chip may struggle but we’ll look at that when we get to performance.
Mounted atop the display is a 1.3 Megapixel camera. The finish round the lens maintains the quality feel of the rest of the notebook and can swivel round either way. If you want or need to communicate an integrated webcam is useful – less to carry and no messy cables.
It’s not often the case that what’s beneath the screen is more impressive than the screen itself. The fit and finish around the keyboard is quite simply fantastic. Immediately above and below the keyboard there’s are mottled metal strips. The words ‘Automobili Lamborghini’ is stylishly etched at the bottom right, while at the bottom left are four small square lights as on the outside, one for power, charging, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Above the keyboard there’s a line of short cut buttons for activating Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, switching between power saving modes, en/disabling the Touchpad, launching Windows Media Centre, and finally the power button. And yes, that is the full version of Windows Media Center as it’s now part and parcel of the Home Premium and Ultimate editions of Vista, with the latter preinstalled on this notebook.
While opening most notebooks feels like getting inside a cheap car, the VX2 does have the feel of an properly expensive vehicle. Above and to the sides of the keyboard you’ll find swarthes of real leather, with superb yellow stitching including round the hinges, which really enhances the look. This more than anything moves the the VX2 away from being just another laptop, to something that you’ll actually like to be in front of. The old motoring cliché of a well appointed interior is to describe is as a ‘nice place to be’. Well, it’s certainly worthy of being said about this notebook. The warmth of the leather against the dull sheen of the metal strips, combined with the white lights is just very cool. The high design continues to the speakers, which run down the sides, with the angling of the leather no doubt intended to echo the sharp angles of the Gallargo. In a nut shell then, I like the way it looks.
The actual keyboard itself if very fine. The size of the notebook means that there’s no cramped keys with a full size Shift and Backspace and an elongated Enter key. The typing action is fairly firm but it felt comfortable, though I did have to remove my watch to be able to rest comfortably.
The smooth black of the track pad subtly tapers towards the bottom and the mouse buttons are separated by biometric fingerprint protection system. A wizard launches the first time you swipe your finger carefully across it, enabling you to ‘enrol’ it, so you can use it as an alternative and/or in addition to a password. It’s a sign that there’s the VX2 isn’t just a well appointed interior – there’s plenty of technology inside.
Before we get to that though we’ll look down the left hand side, where you’ll find a DVD burner, capable of handling almost every type of DVD media. You can burn a dual-layer disc and even etch a label onto it thanks to LightScribe technology. Next to this you’ll find a connector for hooking up an external DVI connector, while next to this are two USB 2.0 ports and then a VGA out and an S-Video out. In the left corner you’ll find a Gigabit Ethernet connector.
Sound capabilities are handled by a SoundMax integrated Digital HD Audio chip, which sound pretty good over headphones or through the speakers, which have a surprising amount of volume. There’s no distortion at the top level and there’s even a little mid-range, though inevitably bass is lacking.
Moving over to the right you’ll find a Express card slot and above this a card reader that accepts SD/MMC and Memory stick. Having just picked up the awesome Fujifilm S9600, I have to wonder why none of these card readers can handle xD cards. Crammed next to the reader is an infrared port, though I can’t see this being used, and then you’ll find an SP/DIF out so you can, with the right cable, get Dolby Digital into an external amp. Accompanying this is a microphone out. Moving along you’ll encounter another USB 2.0 port, taking the total up to three, and then there’s a mini Firewire port. Towards the right corner you’ll find a modem port and then the power socket. The rear is free of ports or connectors, save for a Kensington lock, which will certainly be needed if you leave this in a public place.
With a brand like Lamborghini you’d expect there to be some pretty speedy components inside and in the main you’d be right. Fixed storage is provided by a Hitachi TravelStar – a 5,400rpm model with a 160GB capacity – notebook drives are starting to get pretty capacious. The star of the show though is the Intel Core 2 Duo T7400. This mobile processor operates at 2.16GHz and boasts 4MB of Level 2 cache. When it’s going full pelt a fair amount of heat is chucked out via the port on the right hand side, but you can switch to cooler running power profiles. When you activate any of the operations via the Function key, you can a neat animation – a marked difference from the normal basic feel of cheaper notebooks.
The CPU communicates with the two sticks of 1GB PC2-5300 over a 667MHz front side bus. Having 2GB of memory is pretty much essential for an notebook claiming high performance that runs Vista. The only downside is that there aren’t any free slots, should you wish to add more but you can of course add an external memory key thanks to ReadyBoost technology, which as we proved does work quite nicely.
While the CPU is top-end, the graphics are actually fairly mid range. With 12 pixel processors running at 450MHz, a 128-bit memory controller and 512MB of 1,000Mhz memory, the GeForce Go 7700 is essentially a 80 nanometre micron process respin of the Go 7600, which makes it cooler running and cheaper for nVidia to produce but doesn’t really add a great deal to performance. This can be seen in our gaming scores. Vista is proving to be a rather troublesome beast for our benchmarks and Call of Duty would not run on this notebook, while Battlefield 2 returned the same score in every single test. Of the games that did work you can see that the VX2 really struggles to deliver a smooth frame rate, at native resolution with maximum settings. However, if you set the game up with kinder, medium levels of details then you can comfortably play games on this notebook. Aside from the benchmarks we tried F.E.A.R and it was fine.
Thanks to Vista we can’t run our normal MobileMark battery tests, but by switching to the office profile I got about two and half hours use before it asked to be plugged in. If you keep usage light you ought to be able to eke three hours. Play games or watch movies then you’ll see a lot less. However, at 2.43Kg this isn’t really a notebook for using regularly without being plugged in.
Befitting a notebook such as this, Asus has bundled what is probably the plushest notebook bag I’ve ever seen. It’s panelling and stitching matches that of the VX2 and of course it has the distinctive logo on the front. Naturally, this just screams mug me, but no doubt your minders will take care of that for you as you stroll down the road. If you don’t actually have any bodyguards then in the brief moments that you’ll actually have with carry case you’ll appreciate the foam padded handle, which is simply lovely to hold. Also included is a leather mouse mat and a small Bluetooth mouse, suitably decked out in Lamborghini livery.
The VX2 is without question a very cool notebook to look at and to use and sets itself apart from the crowd. What’s nice is that it does more than beat Sony at its own game – it actually offers something a bit different and is in a sense more exclusive.
The screen saver is naturally enough cool shadowed image of a Gallardo accompanied by roaring 5 litre V10 rumble sounds, which is either very cool is supremely embarrassing but that’s the thing with a notebook like this – it polarises opinion. In our book its a refreshing change and that’s reason enough to like it.
You’ll either love or hate the look of the Asus Lamborghini VX2 but there’s no denying the quality of its build or the strength of its components. It’s not the fastest thing around for gaming but for general use and casual gaming this is a serious looking and great performing piece of kit.
Score in detail
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