We're spoiled for choices when it comes to electronics and gadgets. The hard part is weeding the gems from the duds. ASUS, a brand known for producing much more winners than losers, has opted to buck a number of trends with their newest laptop, the N45SF. This gorgeous creature made a splash at this year's Computex, but hasn't made its way into the country as of press time. The gearheads here at Techie were more than happy to tinker with this laptop and see if ASUS' claims hold true in real-life usage.
One thing's for sure: it's no slouch, especially in the aesthetics department. The piano-gloss cover (which really loves fingerprints), black-and-silver color scheme and metal frame for the 14-inch display all pitch in to make the N45SF a real classy rig - designer David Lewis deserves a pat on the back. The laptop may be a tad bulky compared to its current rivals, but the slightly bigger size can be attributed to the Blu-ray player sitting pretty on the unit's right side. Don't worry, it doesn't tip the scales that much. As for the placement of the other parts, three USB ports (two v3.0 and one v2.0) and the slot for the external ASUS SonicMaster subwoofer flank the Blu-ray drive while the mic/headphone, LAN, VGA, power and HDMI ports take care of the left side. The center portion is home to the card reader and indicator lights.
Enough about the exterior; let's go see what's inside! Audiophiles will crack a big smile when they see the Bang & Olufsen speakers dominating the N45SF's top portion. The keyboard's a bit cramped due to the addition of volume control keys on the left side which means users would have to make some adjustments whenever they type. The device's innards (which include an Intel Core i5 processor and 4GB of DDR3 memory) make the N45SF a speedy and capable machine (and prove that looks don't have to be deceiving all the time).
Numbers and scores
On to the more important details. The N45SF got a Windows Experience Index Rating of 4.6 with the graphics portion getting the lowest subscore out of the bunch. It got a better turnout with NovaBench, which gave this machine a score of 553 - around the same range as similar rigs.
Battery life served up the biggest surprise. The N45SF and its charger are going to have lots of quality time since both the Battery Bar projection and actual, normal usage gave us just a bit over two and a half hours. It's disappointing; many laptops in the same category as the N45SF run on batteries for much longer.
Our video files and games were rendered nicely on the 14-inch display, but we did have to contend with a fair amount of glare. Remember the Bang & Olufsen speakers we mentioned earlier? For the most part, we liked what it churned out. Consumers typically have to strain to hear audio files and sound effects, or resort to external speakers to get their audio fix. Users won't need to do that with the N45SF; we got it loud and proud, just how we liked it for our True Blood and Game of Thrones marathons.
But there's a downside: put the volume level too high, and you'll get bad sound quality or, in local parlance, tunog lata effect. ASUS has supplied us with a bundled SonicMaster subwoofer, which provided a "theater" feel and provided more depth to our audio, but there were times when we preferred not to use it.
Is the ASUS N45SF a good buy? If you often use your laptop as a multimedia player and don't have any qualms with the short battery life, then yes, you should consider getting it once it arrives in this part of the world. If not (and if you want more budget-friendly options because we expect the N45SF's asking price to be not cheap), then it's best to look elsewhere.
NOTE: ASUS N45SF will be available in our shores soon. It's price tag, still TBA. Click here to view the ASUS N45SF in the Buyer's Guide
Check the gallery below for review photos...