On the upside, the touchpad is very large and has a pleasant matte surface. But on the other hand it’s not the most responsive and its surface shows finger-grease very easily. Its two buttons feature the same surface and are just the slightest bit stiff, though once you get past that they provide positive response.
Shortcut keys in a small piano-black panel above the keyboard are incredibly responsive, although this is one of the areas of the notebook where build quality is worst with noticeable flex when pressurised.
Speaking of worst, the X50MV’s 1.5W speakers qualify for an award in this category. They’re underpowered and tinny, making most male voice work and song lyrics sound like they’re being produced by nasally afflicted twelve-year olds. That they’re facing down probably doesn’t help much either and given this is an area we’ve seen much improvement over the last year, this is something that severely hampers the M50V’s credentials.
Fortunately, when we get to the high resolution 1,680 x 1,050 screen it’s a different story. Indeed, this is among the better screens you’ll find in a 15.4in notebook. Greyscale performance was far stronger than on most, with only the subtlest whites getting lost even on the lowest brightness setting. This lent films and games a level of dark detail one often ends up missing on a notebook.
Continuing the strong performance, colour gradients displayed absolutely no banding whatsoever and light bleed was so minimal as to be almost unnoticeable. Colours were vibrant without being over-saturated and text appeared razor-sharp.
Best of all, all this screen goodness can be enjoyed with friends or loved ones, thanks to some fairly decent viewing angles. They’re not perfect, mind you, but then we’ve yet to find a notebook screen whose viewing angles are. To be honest, the display’s only real failing is one it has in common with almost every consumer laptop on the planet; a distracting degree of reflectivity.
So can you make use of this wonderful screen for some serious gaming? Having previously mentioned the graphics card to be a bit underpowered, let’s put that into a real world context: In Call of Duty 4 the 9600GT did deliver a playable 30FPS average (with 20FPS minimum) at the screen’s native 1,680 x 1,050 resolution with details set to medium and no anti-aliasing or anisotropic filtering. In other words, most modern games will run if you’re willing to make compromises. Just don’t even bother trying to play Crysis.