Much like theoretical physics, the exciting developments in laptops these days are at the small and large ends of the scale. While every company and their respective dogs are trying to jump onto the EeePC bandwagon, a number are similarly piling into the chariot reserved for 17-inch or larger multimedia desktop replacements. ASUS's M70SA is one such beast.
The M70SA's design is passable. It's big, it's boxy and as desktop replacements tend to be, it's a little on the hefty side. ASUS has included Altec Lansing speakers to serve sound duties in 5.1, and by and large they pull through, being able to deliver decent volume and an acceptable mid-range, unlike Acer's which simply felt hollow.
ASUS gives a little more bang for buck in screen resolution over Acer's competitor as well, coming in at 1,920 by 1,200. It's only a minor increase, and it's up to the user whether they want a 17-inch 16:10 screen ratio, or the 18.4-inch 16:9 offered by the 8920G. In terms of vibrancy and colour though Acer's screen certainly took the lead.
Featured within the mousepad are touch sensitive multimedia controls — just tap the "Mode" button in the top right of the trackpad and the mouse turns off, making the multimedia buttons active. Cool idea in theory, but in practice we found ourselves turning on the multimedia buttons far too often when we were simply trying to tap to left click. Turning them off occasionally proved a chore as well, so we'd rather see a dedicated button to switch functions alongside the other shortcut buttons, just below the screen.
These buttons load Windows Media Center, flip between Splendid modes (ASUS's display presets, best avoided and left on "Standard"), turn off the mousepad altogether, and change between preset battery profiles.
The usual webcam and fingerprint scanner are included, and as seems to be the vogue these days software is included for facial recognition, should you wish to use it as a security pass.
If ASUS's motherboard history proves anything, it's that they know features. The same is true of the M70SA, which is truly bristling with bits and bobs. On the left-hand side is an antenna port for the included TV tuner, two USB ports, one FireWire port, an MMC/SD/MS card reader, and a Blu-ray drive for the full high definition experience. Well, as full as you can get on a laptop, anyway.