Asus VivoBook S500CA review
A remarkable price for a classy 15.6in touchscreen laptop, but performance is seriously lacking
Review Date: 24 Sep 2013
Reviewed By: Sasha Muller
Price when reviewed: £358 (£430 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
Asus pioneered the use of touchscreens on budget laptops with its VivoBook family, and now it's the turn of its VivoBook 500CA. Boasting a 15.6in touchscreen, and the same snazzy, wedge-shaped design as its 11.6in and 14in stablemates, this is a budget laptop with a modicum of style.
Like its daintier brethren, the S500CA is a striking machine that, despite its size, manages to impart an air of elegance. A dark, brushed-aluminium plate tops the lid, soft-touch plastic coats its underside, and understated matte-silver plastic surrounds the keyboard. Compared to most budget laptops, the S500CA is unusually attractive.
Build quality is a highlight. The metal keyboard surround keeps the chassis feeling pleasingly stiff, and while the decision to dump the optical drive might irk some prospective buyers, it's allowed Asus to trim the chassis down to a mere 22mm thick. It's also helped keep weight to a minimum - the 500CA weighs only 2.16kg, noticeably less than most of its 15.6in rivals.
Around the sides are three USB ports, one of which is USB 3, an SD card slot, a 3.5mm headset jack, Gigabit Ethernet, full-sized HDMI and D-SUB outputs. That's an adequate assortment, but we’d prefer more USB 3 sockets. Inside, there’s single-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.
The Asus's 15.6in touchscreen is right at home with Windows 8, but the 1,366 x 768 panel isn’t the best example we’ve come across. It’s responsive enough, but its surface is a little sticky under the finger, which occasionally left us dabbing multiple times to drag windows around or perform edge-swipes.
As with the other touchscreen machines we’ve seen at this price, the touch-sensitive layer has a detrimental effect on image quality. Maximum brightness reaches only 179cd/m2, which is a low result even by budget laptop standards, and there's a noticeable grain to the image.
If you can excuse those complaints, however, then the image quality is by no means bad. The contrast ratio is a far more acceptable 245:1, and colour accuracy is as good as it gets at the price. Asus' decision to factory calibrate the display results in honest, lifelike colour reproduction - a rarity in a laptop in this price bracket.
Some of the 500CA's traits are less easy to forgive, however. Despite its size, the keyboard is cramped, with flat, dead-feeling keys. The buttonless touchpad isn’t our favourite, either, and is a little oversensitive.
Performance is disappointing, too. Inside, there’s a two-generation-old Sandy Bridge processor, 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard disk, a combination which delivered a predictably middling result of 0.44 in our Real World Benchmarks. The older Intel HD Graphics 3000 GPU also takes its toll on gaming performance, and the 500CA struggled to an average of 24fps in our least taxing Crysis test.
We like the price of the S500CA, we like its looks, and the fact that it includes a touchscreen at this price is remarkable. Alas, while the VivoBook S500CA looks the part, more dowdy rivals such as the Sony VAIO Fit 15E deliver a more convincing all-round performance.
Author: Sasha Muller
- Samsung tempts the selfie market with A5 and A3 smartphones
- Internet tax: what it is and why it failed
- Android co-founder Andy Rubin leaves Google
- Windows 10 trackpad shortcuts: Microsoft takes a leaf out of Apple's book
- Promo: Using IBM BlueMix to create successful business apps
- Why the Microsoft Band could be a game changer
- What's on this week's PC Pro podcast?
- Microsoft Office 16 set to launch late next year
- HP's vision for the future of PCs: the 3D Sprout
- How Google X plans to detect cancer and heart disease using nano-magnets
- Google Glass: mugger bait, pub problem and other lessons learned from two dangerous weeks
- Twitter, please don't fiddle with my feed
- How Satya Nadella can get some pay-raise karma
- Windows 10: a step back to go forward
- Michael Dell: Cloud infrastructure is the roads, bridges and highways of the 21st century
- How to check your identity hasn’t been sold to the hackers
- Tim Cook: this is how much TV has changed since the 70s
- Westminster wins the .London battle
- 20 years of PC Pro: from deep pan pizza to virtualisation
- Five reasons why the Apple Watch leaves me cold
- Five smartwatch features we’ll see by 2015
- How to wipe an Android phone or tablet
- iPad Air 2 vs Nexus 9: Apple and Google's latest high-end tablets compared
- Five things that are actually new in the iPad Air 2
- Bendgate, Antennagate, and why Apple doesn’t care about bad news
- iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 release date, specs and UK price rumours
- Office Online vs Google Docs: which free online office suite is best?
- iPhone 6 Plus vs iPhone 6 design comparison
- How to speed up an Android smartphone
- Nexus 6 release date, specs, UK price and leaked images
- How to sell more ebooks on Amazon
- 10 ways to make your business more secure
- Top five VoIP mistakes
- How to add in-app purchasing to an iPhone, Android or Windows app
- Remote-control ransomware: TeamViewer and software hardball
- Why laptops with serial ports matter to the Internet of Things
- Make your mobile battery last longer
- Small steps into handling Big Data
- Nexus 5: does it really run stock Android?
- How to get broadband to a garden office