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Asus U50Vg review: Asus U50Vg

The U50Vg has some annoying design issues, but it's a great laptop that can be relied on when out and about.

Irene Mickaiel
When Irene's not finding reasons to go globetrotting, with a camera almost permanently fixed to her face, she's reading up on all the latest gizmos and gadgets or trying her hand at adventure sports.
Irene Mickaiel
3 min read

Design

The U50Vg is a rather sleek and clean laptop with minimal design. Beneath the surface of its glossy black lid and around the keyboard and touchpad are glittering aqua specks that unfortunately quickly become hidden under fingerprint smudges.

8.0

Asus U50Vg

The Good

Its classy design. Express Gate. Battery life.

The Bad

The touchpad isn't very responsive. Screen's viewing angle.

The Bottom Line

The U50Vg has some annoying design issues, but it's a great laptop that can be relied on when out and about.

Asus markets the U50Vg as a superior mobile laptop, that measures at 384x267x33.6mm and weighs 2.56kg (with a six-cell battery). It has a full-sized keyboard, with a numpad; however, due to the numpad the U50Vg requires you to place your hands a little to the left of the laptop rather than the centre, which means your right hand will be resting on the touchpad. Also, the right shift key has been nudged a little to the left to fit an arrow key in, which can be frustrating if out of habit you expect it to sit directly under the Enter key.

The keypad is backlit and the touchpad has an array of lights comprising of dots that follow your finger as you move it vertically on the pad. Like Asus' U80V, the brightness of the screen and backlit keyboard auto adjusts depending on the light level in the room, or you can adjust or switch off the backlight yourself using the function keys.

Of course, we're not forgetting about the highly reflective 15.6-inch LED-backlit, 1366x768 monitor. The display's viewing angle is limited when looking up or down, but can be viewed clearly at any angle from the sides. Above the monitor is a 1.3-megapixel webcam.

Embedded on the speaker are two buttons: one on the far left for Asus' Express Gate start-up (more on this later), and on the far right is the standard power button.

Features

Asus' Express Gate feature allows you to start-up the laptop in eight seconds. It's a simple operating system based on Linux that allows web access, plays music, views photos, lets you talk on IM and includes Skype, all without having to load Windows. A great time saver if you just needed to check your email on the run without having to wait for the lengthy start-up time of one minute and 19 seconds.

The touchpad has multi-finger gesture input where you can use two fingers in a scissor-like action to zoom in and out of windows, or by swiping both fingers to scroll up, down, left or right. Moving three fingers horizontally emulates the page up/page down buttons, and tapping the touchpad with three acts like a right-click of the mouse.

Unfortunately, at times the touchpad can be a bit slow in reacting and other times not realising that you're using three fingers. Another issue we had with the touchpad, which according to Asus is due to the way the pad is illuminated, was that the outermost edges don't register touch. Both left and right mouse buttons are consolidated into a single bar, which is also a bit hard to press and can get tiresome if you constantly use it.

For AU$1499, the U50Vg comes with Windows Vista Home Premium, Intel Core 2 Duo P8700 2.53GHz processor, 500GB hard drive, 2GB RAM, an Nvidia 512MB GeForce G105M graphics card, as well as 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Apart from a Wi-Fi/Bluetooth switch that can be turned off at the slide of a button at the lip of the laptop, all the ports are kept to the left and right sides. A headphone and microphone port, three USB ports, an eSATA port, flash memory slot, ExpressCard slot, HDMI port, Kensington lock port, LAN, and a mini D-Sub port.

Performance

The U50Vg scored well in our performance tests with a 3DMark06 score of 1716 and 5736 in PCMark05. A very good result all up and should be able to handle a multitude of tasks for the office. Its battery life will also have you mobile without the need for a power source. With all power-saving features turned off, screen brightness set to high and an XviD movie played in a loop, the battery lasted for a maximum of three hours and two minutes. This is a worst-case scenario, which means if you use the laptop for light office work and internet browsing it should last significantly longer.

While the U50Vg has some annoying design issues, it's a great laptop that can be relied on when out and about.