A good keyboard is always an essential feature and the N50Vc’s keyboard is among the better ones you’ll come across. Its shallow-profile keys are large and slightly concave, very much reminiscent of HP’s better efforts. Feedback is excellent and there’s no flex or rattling.
Layout is good, with everything where you would want it to be – Ctrl to the outside of Fn and a proper UK-style Enter key. There’s also a full number pad, while secondary functions are clearly marked and well-placed. The only minor niggle is that the cursor keys intrude into the number pad.
Though it’s by no means bad, Asus hasn’t done quite as good a job on the touchpad. In its favour, it’s one of largest you’ll come across, letting you navigate the entire screen in a single swipe, and it is incredibly responsive. However, the touch-zone’s coating is so smooth it’s occasionally slightly slippery, while the faux-chromed buttons are a tad stiff and noisy. Between the chromed touchpad buttons resides a similarly-finished fingerprint scanner providing an extra layer of personal security.
Just to the left of the touchpad at the notebook’s front edge is a set of indicator LEDs with red for power and battery, and blue for hard drive and wireless status. Though you can’t see their icons with the lid closed, the LEDs themselves are visible.
With the N50Vc’s back being completely free of ports, you’ll find all the notebook’s connectivity easily accessible around the front and sides. The majority is found on the left side, including a power jack, LAN port, VGA and HDMI video connections, two USB ports, a single mini-FireWire port and a memory card reader in addition to a 54mm ExpressCard slot.
These are joined by another USB port and the Blu-ray drive on the machine’s right, while at its front is a handy wireless switch, microphone and headphone jacks, and an eSATA port. Annoyingly, quite aside from its awkward location, this eSATA port doesn’t double as a USB port, leaving you with a sub-par total of only three.
As if to make up for it, Asus has incorporated yet another unique feature into its notebook’s front. Taking the whole hygiene spiel that Samsung is addressing with its Silver Nano anti-bacterial keyboard coating to the next level, the N50Vc has a built-in Air Ionizer, which according to Asus “not only helps clean the air around the user of allergens and germs, but also promotes air-flow and circulation”. Indeed.