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HolidayBuyer's Guide
Laptops

Photos: Asus N50V laptop takes leaf from HP's book

Crave had an awkward run-in with the postman this morning. He turned up, handed us a package containing an Asus N50V laptop, and we humped his leg

Crave had an awkward run-in with the postman this morning. He turned up, handed us a package containing an Asus N50V laptop, and we sexually assaulted him. Sorry, that's too strong a term, but we did hump his leg -- perhaps a little too enthusiastically.

Why the excitement? Well, the box said Asus on it -- and that's usually reason enough to drop trou'. Inside, we were greeted by a hot-looking laptop that's very reminiscent of an HP. It even has an 'Imprint Finish'-like pattern on the lid and wrist rest, touch-sensitive buttons above the keyboard, front-facing audio jacks and Altec Lansing speakers.

Asus hadn't bothered to install an operating system on it, so we can't confirm whether there's any HP software installed on the hard drive. Presumably, though, the final version of the N50V will have Vista. In the meantime, we've kept ourselves busy messing about with the limited, but still highly useful Express Gate Linux partition (see page 3 for more on this).

According to a sticker next to the mouse trackpad, the N50V has an Intel Core 2 Duo T9400 clocked at 2.5GHz, 4GB of RAM, a two-speed Blu-ray drive, a 320GB hard drive, 802.11a,b,g,n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and a 15.4-inch WXGA, LED-backlit screen.

Other things worth noting include three USB ports, a front-facing e-SATA port, HDMI and D-Sub video outputs, a memory card reader, and the lack of a confirmed price or release date -- although that last point's not a particularly good thing. We're off to stick Vista on it so we can have a proper muck about. Watch for a full review soon and click through for more pics and deets. -Rory Reid

Here it is with the lid lifted. The keyboard and accompanying numerical keypad are both large and comfortable to use. The Matrix-style pattern on the wrist rest is fairly nice, although the colour scheme may not be to everyone's tastes.

At the top left, you'll see the power button, and next to that, the button for launching the Express Gate Linux partition. This boots in around 8 seconds and lets you surf the Web, read email, Skype and IM your mates -- all without the need for booting Windows.

At the front, you get front-facing audio jacks and an e-SATA port. We can imagine the former coming in handy, but having an e-SATA port at the front is a little odd.

The left side of the N50V is home to Ethernet, D-Sub, HDMI, two USB ports, four-pin FireWire, ExpressCard slot and a 4-in-1 card reader. The other side has a Blu-ray drive and another USB port.

The mouse trackpad has some curvy, chunky buttons that are a pleasure to use. In the middle, there's also a fingerprint reader for secure logins.

But forget that, because Asus also says you can log into Windows using only your face! Simply stare into the webcam above the screen, and it'll recognise your features and grant you access. There's no word about whether the system stores pictures of anyone who fails the authentication, but here's hopin'.