Yesterday, we got the chance to have an exclusive first look at some upcoming new laptops for gamers, business users, and regular consumers from Asus Philippines. From the ROG sub-brand to the value-oriented VivoBook series, we had a sneak peek at what Asus had in store for the local laptop market.
While we all dream of gaming laptops like the ROG, we believe the likes of the VivoBook are the ones that sell a lot more, and for a very good reason: reasonable specs at a reasonable price. So let’s talk about the VivoBook first.
The VivoBook S15 S530UN that we got our hands on yesterday didn’t look like much at first. But that’s not such a bad thing, as ASUS has kept the familiar VivoBook design cues for it including the rounded edges, brushed metal lid, island keys, and thin bezels. The overall aesthetic is still elegant and classy, and we think that it can appeal to just about everyone.
For this latest edition of the VivoBook, Asus has decided to add a splash of color to it. You have a white, yellow, red, or aqua blue color options. This adds a nice touch of personality for those who want a laptop that somewhat projects their taste.
ASUS has also thrown in its so-called ErgoLift hinge, which protrudes and lifts the rear of the chassis up from the surface when you open the laptop’s display. This enables better ventilation and typing ergonomics as it puts the keyboard at an angle. ASUS has also placed two rubber notches on the bottom of the hinge to prevent it from scraping any table surface whenever you open the laptop’s lid.
Build quality wasn’t compromised either. The VivoBook felt sturdy and solid, with only some flex to the keyboard area and the bottom of the chassis. That said, it was fairly easy to point out where ASUS had to cut a few corners.
While we can’t talk about the specs or performance (since ASUS has yet to finalize the official specs for the Philippine market), the one thing we were assured that would be carried over from the demo unit we saw was the screen.
At 15.6 inches, the matte LCD with 1366×768 resolution resulted in a plain viewing experience. HD movies should be fine, but the screen could be sharper especially for text and other desktop elements. If you’re a budget conscious user, this is a major feature that you’re going to have to live with. We are hoping that ASUS could bring in the 1080p model because it would really make the VivoBook a top-notch productivity laptop, but we can’t be sure about that.
Speaking of productivity, the full-size keyboard was easy to use with good travel and large keys that are clearly separated from each other. The trackpad is generously sized, smooth, and fairly accurate. The webcam is still HD, and while we wish laptop makers would move on to using better camera modules, (especially someone like ASUS who has a smartphone division) at least it’s placed on top of the screen and not on the bottom like some manufacturers do.
There are plenty of ports, with three USB Type-A ports (1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1, 2 x USB 2.0), a USB Type-C 3.1 Gen 1 port, an HDMI port, a 3.5 mm audio combo jack, and a microSD card reader. So unless your office or school is still stuck with projectors with VGA connectors, you shouldn’t have any problems.
We think the VivoBook S15 could be a capable mid-range laptop. Despite its HD-only display, it still brings a lot of nice things to the table. And it’s offered in various color choices, to boot. Assuming that the pricing is kept reasonable, it could be a good school or office machine. And as for gaming, we can only hope that ASUS has a variant with dedicated graphics lined up somehow as well.
ASUS will finalize the specs and the SRP of the VivoBook later this week, so check back here for our update on that soon.