The Asus N53S’s keyboard doesn’t follow in the footsteps of the current trend for chiclet-style keyboards. Instead, there’s just a 1-2mm gap between each key, allowing each to be of a fairly decent size. The numerical keypad’s buttons are a little smaller, but this feels like a fair compromise when it results in a spaceous main keyboard area.
The key action is a little bouncy, but it’s definite enough to avoid that imprecise spongy feel of some laptop keyboards. The large-sized keys and decent action make the Asus N53S very comfortable to type away on – its keyboard doesn’t lead the class though, trumped by the likes of the Lenovo Thinkpad Edge 15.
It’s a similar tale with the display. The laptop uses a 1366×768 pixel panel of the TN (twisted nematic) type. Although the standard setup for laptops of this level, performance is fairly uninspiring. Horizontal viewing angles are acceptable, but there’s significant contrast shift when viewed from a less-than-optimal vertical angle. The backlight is fairly consistent but cast a blue hue at angles. To top it off, contrast is unimpressive. The experience of viewing Blu-rays and playing games on the N53SV isn’t much cop unless you sit just in the right position. The screen has a reflective glossy finish, so you’ll need to pump up the screen brightness right up if you want to venture outside with the laptop – and even then you won’t have much fun.
To get the bump up to a full 1080p screen, you’ll usually have to spend a little more cash though – on something like the Sony Vaio VPCEB4X0E, which has its own share of other issues surrounding poor battery life, or Dell XPS 15z.
The trackpad uses a brushed finish, offering an extra bit of texture to give your finger a very smooth ride across its surface. A single shiny metallic strip below accommodates the two mouse buttons – a design that won’t appeal to all, but is in keeping with the N53SV’s simple lines.
One of the Asus N53S’s stand-out design elements is the speaker grille that sits just below the screen. This houses the Bang & Olufsen IcePower speakers. Bang & Olufsen is a big name in hi-fi terms, but one as famous for its high prices and unusual designs as sound quality.
Putting a name like this remains a marketing ploy that may skew some expectations – they’re still tiny little laptop speakers after all – but sound quality is far above average here. There’s some semblance of bass, and while the drivers start to show the strain at top volume, the scale of sound benefits significantly from the extra attention the built-in speakers have been given. For the casual bit of music-listening, or watching a TV episode in your bedroom, the Asus N53S is more than up to the task. For anything more substantial though, we’d still recommend hooking-up some external speakers.