Meet the Asus NX90: the stylish-looking multimedia laptop with the built-in Bang & Olufsen speaker system. We've just had a chance to listen to the NX90 and give it a good fondle at the Asus stand at CES 2010.
We weren't expecting much as far as sound is concerned. Asus has the misfortune of being positioned alongside an Ed Hardy booth that blares urban music pretty much constantly, so it's difficult to hear oneself think, let alone the speakers from a humble laptop. Still, we fancied a laugh, so we went ahead and pumped some audio through it anyway.
Despite everyone and everything within 100m doing their best to drown it out, the NX90 sounded good. By placing the speakers on the outside of the chassis, rather than squeezing them inside, Bang & Olufsen has been able to generate more volume than you get from your average laptop. Even in this environment, the laptop was loud enough so we could hear the soundtrack of the video file we'd run, which is more than can be said for most of its rivals.
We'll reserve final judgement until we get a chance to hear the unit in more forgiving conditions, such as a living room, but, based on this quick listen, we fully expect the NX90 to give systems with equivalent-sized speakers more than a run for their money, particularly where audio fidelity is concerned. We're not saying it'll be in the same league as the B&O audio setup we tested in the Aston Martin DBS, but here's hoping that this is a real step forward for laptop audio.
We're not too keen on the dual mouse trackpads. Asus has installed one on either side of the keyboard in the belief that it'll make the NX90 appeal to lefties. They can be used simultaneously to perform the usual assortment of multi-touch navigation tomfoolery in Windows 7, as well as in Asus' own Rotation Desktop Control application, which lets you mess about with music "like a DJ". Despite the obvious cleverness, we can't help but feel that this is a solution looking for a problem.
The rest of the spec is pretty ace, though. The NX90's graphics chip is a potent Nvidia GeForce GT 335M model, it uses an Intel Core i7 CPU running at 1.73GHz, it has 8GB of RAM, and it'll come with an optional Blu-ray drive. We're beside ourselves with excitement at the prospect of seeing this machine back in the UK, where it'll hopefully go on sale this summer for around $2,000 (£1,250).
Point your mouse at the 'Continue' link below for some hands-on pics.
The speakers are mounted on the outside of the laptop to help deliver improved audio fidelity. They also fire sound straight at your face and can create a virtual surround-sound effect without using additional satellite speakers.
The right side of the laptop is home to an array of ports. There are three audio jacks, including an S/PDIF one for connecting external speakers, two USB sockets, one USB/eSATA hybrid port, an HDMI port, and D-Sub video and Ethernet jacks.