You've got to question the sanity of Asus. We gave the company the benefit of the doubt when it made a laptop with two screens -- it was crazy, but we let that slide. We even turned a blind eye to its bamboo laptops. But its latest endeavour, the F6 laptop, has us convinced the company is one egg short of an omelette. It is, believe it or not, the world's first scented laptop. Yes, that's right, for £650, Asus will sell you a laptop that literally smells of roses. Nurse!
The F6 is a stunning example of contemporary laptop design. Our pink review sample -- also known as the Floral Blossom model -- has a gorgeous pink floral pattern on the lid that the vast majority of us in the CNET UK office absolutely adored.
One thing we weren't particularly keen on was the scent. The Floral Blossom model gives off a whiff not dissimilar to strawberry bubble gum. It's extremely faint, however, so you really have to hold it close to your nostrils and give it a good sniff before you detect anything.
If pink lids smelling of part-chewed bubble gum isn't your thing, Asus also sells a Musky Black version with a colourful blue, red and white motif inspired by extreme sports and graffiti art. This, we're told, has a 'playful' and 'musky' scent that emanates power, daring and energy -- possibly like sweat. Outside the UK, Asus will also release a pastel-green Morning Dew model with a nature-inspired motif and a crisp, refreshing smell, as well as a blue Aqua Ocean model with an invigorating aquatic scent -- possibly like fish, but we're just guessing here.
As much as we like the overall design of the F6, the whole scent thing is rather a gimmick. Sure, we commend Asus on its ability to infuse smells into plastic (just), and for having the guts to do something different, but in this case we can't really see the point. It's not as if the scents are there to invigorate you as you work -- you have to ram your face up against them to get any effect.
Thankfully, Asus gets most of the rest of the laptop design just about right. It comes with three USB ports -- two on one side, one on the other, an eSATA port, an ExpressCard/34 slot, a memory card reader and even a fingerprint reader between the mouse selector buttons. These buttons are too stiff for our liking, but they may offer a little less resistance the more you use them. The keyboard, unsurprisingly for a laptop of this size, is comfortable to use.
Despite having such a progressive design, the F6 is still a fairly affordable laptop. It's therefore no surprise to learn that some corners have been cut with the specification. It's not one of those new-fangled Centrino 2 laptops, for a start -- it's just regular, old Centrino.
It's not all bad news, though. Its CPU is a Core 2 Duo T5750 running at 2GHz and it has 3GB of RAM. That's a fairly sturdy set of underlying components that, while not cutting edge, won't cause the bigger boys in the laptop playground to laugh at you.
The F6's storage is probably its best asset. It has a capacious 320GB hard drive, which is nothing to be sneezed at on a laptop of this price. If you're into video editing, or simply want to hoard a shed-load of movies (up to around 200 DivX flicks can be stashed) then you're in good hands. The DVD rewriter drive on the right side lets you back up to dual-layer DVDs as large as 8.5GB.
We're pleasantly surprised by the inclusion of a graphics card that isn't an integrated Intel model. The F6 packs an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3470 graphics adaptor, so it's not only capable of playing 3D games, it'll also comfortably handle 1080p video. This can be enjoyed over the 13.3-inch display's 1,280-800 pixels, but that isn't always ideal since most movies don't precisely match its 16:10 aspect ratio. The good news is you can pipe your movies over HDMI to an external monitor or TV.
The F6V ships with Windows Vista Home Premium edition as its primary operating system. It also comes with the fantastic Express Gate software by Splashtop. Hit the alternative power button to the top left of the keyboard and you'll be presented with a cut-down alternative to Windows, which boots in less than 10 seconds. From here, you can access the Web, your music files, play online games, view photos and use the Pidgin instant messaging client and Skype.
The F6 offers balanced performance. It's certainly no speed demon, but it's a solid all-rounder that isn't lacking in any particular area. It felt quick and stable in everyday use, and the 2GHz CPU helped it jog to a PCMark 2005 score of 4,120, which is very respectable.
The ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3470 graphics card plays its part, too. It helped the machine clock up 1,952 in 3DMark 2006, which is a good deal more than you'd get with an Intel integrated graphics solution. Expect it to play 3D games, albeit at modest detail settings.
Battery life wasn't fantastic, unfortunately. The F6V lacks the power-saving improvements found in Centrino 2, so it's not surprising it lasted a mere 1 hour 42 minutes in our Battery Eater test.
The F6V is a very good laptop, but don't believe the hype about the smell. Unless you're a dog, you can hardly smell anything. Thankfully, it's very good-looking, fairly quick and quite affordable. Laptops such as the Dell XPS M1330 give it a good run for its money, but if you're after something slightly different, it's definitely worthy of consideration.
Edited by Cristina Psomadakis