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Asus F50SV-A2 review: Asus F50SV-A2

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MSRP: $1,249.00

The Good New Nvidia graphics processor; Blu-ray drive; solid construction.

The Bad Weak speakers for a multimedia notebook; uninspiring design; short battery life.

The Bottom Line While it's a Blu-ray-equipped 16-inch laptop with good gaming muscle, the Asus F50SV-A2's design left us cold.

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6.7 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 7
  • Performance 6
  • Battery 5
  • Support 8

Sixteen-inch laptops comprise a growing category, perhaps because they sit between the semiportable, 15-inch, mainstream systems and the heavy, 17- and 18-inch models that are essentially desk-bound machines with hinged screens.

The $1,249 Asus F50SV-A2 packs a Blu-ray drive and a new mainstream Nvidia graphics chip into a relatively on-the-go package that's lighter than gaming beasts, but heavier than a standard laptop.

Price as reviewed / starting price $1,249 / $1,149
Processor 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8600
Memory 4GB, 800 MHz DDR2
Hard drive 320GB 7200 rpm
Chipset Mobile Intel GM45 Express
Graphics Nvidia GeForce G 120M
Operating System Windows Vista Premium
Dimensions (WD) 14.96 inches wide by 10.43 inches deep
Height 1.64 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 16 inches
System with adapter /System weight 7.36/6.4 pounds
Category Mainstream

Asus' laptop is a little too heavy for our tastes, especially after reviewing the much lighter and thinner Lenovo Y650, which also had a 16-inch screen. Adding to the sense of ennui we felt about the total package , the chassis design on our review model was semisleek, but far from sexy. The best thing we can say about the glossy, gray-and-white striped, plastic interior and exterior is that it didn't collect fingerprints. Still, the F50SV-A2 felt sturdy and well proportioned on our laps and on a desk, even if it was a tough fit for many laptop bags.

A multitouch-pad inset in the palm rest controlled well, but the silvery plastic button bar beneath rests on a rocker, meaning clicking left or right is a little labored. We generally prefer separate left and right mouse buttons.

The keyboard certainly can't be faulted for not being large--it expands across the width of the laptop and includes a number pad, as well--but on extended usage, it felt a little too mushy and flat. The number pad area would have been better served by a series of dedicated media control buttons, which the F50SV lacks. A small, chrome button bar above the function keys launches a handful of programs, including Windows Media Center and an instant-on set of applications called ExpressGate that don't require XP to start up and use. The ExpressGate instant-launch browser had spotty functionality, and while instant launch capability is a good idea, these apps didn't shave much time off what it would have taken to wake the Windows OS up from sleep.

Having a built-in Blu-ray drive makes this a tempting choice for movie buffs. While the system scores points for including BD for around $1,200, the built-in Blu-ray software is WinDVD, which gave us a few problems with setup. And the speakers didn't impress, sounding too washed out and soft to provide a compelling Blu-ray experience.

The standard 1,366x768 16-inch screen resolution gets the job done for most video and gaming purposes, but the lack of 1080p is especially disappointing since both the Blu-ray drive and the GT 120M processor are great for showing off higher-res images. On a Blu-ray-free machine, such as the recently reviewed Lenovo IdeaPad Y650, 720p-level resolution is more forgivable.

  F50SV-A2 Average for category [mainstream]
Video VGA-out, HDMI VGA-out, HDMI
Audio Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks
Data 4 USB 2.0, SD card reader 4 USB 2.0, SD card reader
Expansion ExpressCard/54 ExpressCard/54
Networking Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional WWAN
Optical drive BD-ROM/DVD burner DVD burner

Three well-spaced USB ports and an Ethernet port line the laptop's left side, while VGA and HDMI (and a fourth USB port) join a center-connecting power jack on the back, which is good for desktop or TV-side connections. The Blu-ray drive loads from the right side. Four USB ports are generous, but we would have gladly traded one for an eSATA port instead.

With a 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8600 and 4 GB of DDR2 RAM, the F50SV-A2 is a pretty powerful system. The Nvidia GeForce G 120M GPU is an intriguing new release that's targeted as a mainstream video card for casual gaming, adding decent graphics power.

In anecdotal HD-streaming and video playback, the F50SV-A2 performed with no complaints. Gaming-wise, Asus' 16-incher could be considered a mainstream-capable gaming laptop, running Unreal Tournament 3 at 60.6 fps in our benchmark tests, which led the pack against 16-inch mainstreamers such as the Dell Studio XPS 16 (57.8) and the HP Pavilion dv7-1285dx (43.2).

Battery life was disappointing, running only 1 hour and 31 minutes in our battery-drain test. For a system that will remain plugged in on a desk all the time, that would be fine, but we expect more from notebooks that are touted as portable.

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