The target buyer of the Asus Lamborghini VX1 isn't exactly looking to go incognito: The laptop's bright yellow lid, with a shape evocative of a sports car's spoiler, prominently features the Automobili Lamborghini logo. And the sports-car resemblance doesn't end with appearance--the Lamborghini VX1 raced through our performance benchmarks, keeping up with laptops that incorporated higher-end components. Unfortunately, like an , the $2,799 VX1 costs quite a bit more than its competitors, including the similarly car-themed Acer Ferrari 5000 ($2,399). Laptops with no special cosmetic treatment, such as the Dell Inspiron E1505, cost even less. But if you're dead set on paying the premium for a laptop with sports-car styling, you won't get burned by the VX1.
The remarkably slender Asus Lamborghini VX1 measures just 1.1 inches thick, 13 inches wide, and 10.8 inches deep, making it smaller than another recently reviewed 15-inch laptop, the Lenovo 3000 C200. Like the Lenovo, though, the Lamborghini is quite a bit boxier than thin-and-lights with wide screens, such as the Acer Ferrari 5000 and the Dell Inspiron E1505. At 5.8 pounds, the Lamborghini VX1 undercuts all three competitive models when it comes to weight, though its chunky AC adapter adds nearly a pound to the package.
Though the Lamborghini VX1 features a sturdy brushed-aluminum keyboard deck, its plastic case is so thin that it seems just a bit fragile. The optical drive, for example, feels like it could be crushed with a strong squeeze. Fortunately the lid, often a point of weakness on thin laptops, flexes very little and does a good job of protecting the screen.
Despite slightly shallow key travel, typing on the Asus Lamborghini VX1's keyboard is comfortable even for extended periods, though the nonstandard layout of secondary keys--for example, Delete, Home, Page Up, and Page Down--requires some adjustment. The average-size touch pad provides a nice amount of drag, and a scroll zone helps you quickly browse Web pages and documents. The metallic mouse buttons are flush with the keyboard deck, and a blue light glows in the space between them. Initially we thought this was just decoration, but we discovered that the light turns off when the touch pad is disabled (via a touch pad on/off button above the keyboard)--a nice touch. Next to the touch pad's on/off button are two programmable application-launch buttons and individual on/off controls for the built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios. Unfortunately, the labels on these controls are black, which maintains the laptop's minimal aesthetic but makes it difficult to see which button to press. We were also surprised by the lack of dedicated media controls, given that Asus pitches the Lamborghini VX1 as an entertainment laptop.
In this age of wide screens, the Asus Lamborghini VX1 features a 15-inch standard-aspect display with a crisp 1,400x1,050 native resolution. A glossy screen finish makes colors pop, though it was annoyingly reflective in a bright room. We enjoyed watching movies with such a sharp resolution and saturated color, but it was unfortunate that the image had to be drastically letterboxed because of the screen's aspect ratio. Frequent movie-watchers would be better served by a wide-screen laptop, such as the Acer Ferrari 5000 or the Dell Inspiron E1505. Media enjoyment is also hindered by the Lamborghini's speakers, which produce weak, flat sound.
The Lamborghini VX1's case includes an average assortment of ports and connections for a thin-and-light, though we wish they were spread out more. The laptop's right edge is loaded with four USB 2.0 ports, microphone and headphone (with S/PDIF) jacks, a four-in-one flash card reader, and jacks for modem and 10/100 Ethernet connections. On the left side of the case is the laptop's double-layer DVD burner, VGA and mini-FireWire connectors, and a slot for the latest ExpressCards. There are no ports or slots on the front or the back of the machine, which makes for a clean look but can get crowded if you need to plug in lots of accessories. Built-in Bluetooth and 802.11a/b/g radios round out the feature set. Asus also throws in a cheap plastic Lamborghini Bluetooth travel mouse, a leather Lamborghini-branded mouse pad, and a groovy laptop bag with Lamborghini-yellow accents.
The Asus Lamborghini VX1 is available in a single fixed configuration that costs $2,799, though a quick Web search uncovers prices as low as $2,600. As you might expect with such a high price, the laptop includes a strong set of components: a 2.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7400 processor, 2GB of swift 667MHz RAM, an Nvidia GeForce Go 7400 graphics card with 512MB dedicated VRAM, and a massive 160GB hard drive spinning at a middling 5,400rpm. The Lamborghini VX1 lived up to its sports-car namesake on CNET Labs' performance benchmarks, performing as well as or better than two systems with faster processors and higher-end graphics cards: the WidowPC Sting 517D and the Dell XPS M1710. The Lamborghini's largest leads came on the multitasking and office productivity tests, marking it as a well-rounded machine that can tackle almost any task a home user might throw at it. It also had enough gas in its tank to run 3 hours, 19 minutes per charge on our battery test--about average for a thin-and-light.
The Lamborghini VX1's support package is a bit disappointing. The standard one-year warranty covers parts and labor, but you'll have to pay to ship the laptop back to a repair depot for service. Also, phone-support hours are limited, and the call is not toll-free. The company's support Web site includes the expected driver downloads and a brief FAQ but lacks useful features such as user forums or the chance to chat in real time with a technician.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)