In general the build quality of the N53JN is excellent, a fact helped by the liberal portions of brushed metal. At 2.73kg it’s not outrageously heavy, but it’s not exactly portable either. Even under reasonable load the N53JN remains relatively cool and quiet, which is a nice quality to have if watching a film at night.
While the build quality is very good, we’re still not sure we like the keyboard despite much testing and discussion. Its layout is fine, and the keys are a comfortable size for prolonged typing, but the key actions are just a little on the fuzzy side and there’s some noticeable flex. Most people will probably get on okay with it, but the N53JN isn’t in the same class as the Dell Inspiron 17R in this respect.
There’s little to say about the touchpad. It has multi-touch support, which works fine, and the faux-chrome rocker switch offers decent feedback. It’s also positioned off-centre, so rarely interferes with typing – a problem we’ve been seeing all too often of late.
Considering the price, the presence of a Blu-ray player, and the much touted B&A ICEpower audio, the N53JN ought to be a very good multimedia machine. Things get off to any inauspicious start though, as the 15.6-inch display does little to inspire. For starters its low 1,366 x 768 resolution is a tad disappointing, but we’d happily overlook such a fault were it not for the equally mediocre viewing angles.
More vitally, the colour gamut isn’t especially wide – yellows in particular look pallid – and the amount of fine detail reproduced is merely average. If you look closely there’s also a slightly mottled quality to the panel, and the bottom edge of the panel is slightly brighter than the rest – a defect particularly noticeable if watching a film in dim conditions. For a £1,000, Blu-ray equipped machine it’s a poor effort.
In stark contrast, the audio performance definitely lives up to its billing. Feed the Bang & Olufson ICEpower speakers decent quality music or film audio and they do a fine job, bringing out plenty of detail and creating a convincing sound stage. Particularly impressive are the astronomic volumes achieved without obvious distortion.
There’s also SonicMaster processing on hand, which comprises a Voice Clarity mode and adaptive volume equalisation. This does a good job of adding some dynamism to films, but tends to make music sound over processed. These speakers are good enough without it, though, so you needn’t use it if you don’t like it.