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
- Europol warns: public Wi-Fi isn't safe
- Privacy groups challenge Facebook's WhatsApp buy
- IDC: iPad intertia opens door for Windows tablets
- Chip breakthrough to eliminate checkout queues
- Rivals put on notice as Spotify snaps up The Echo Nest
- Windows 8.1 Update 1 leaks via Microsoft's website
- Bitcoin "founder" says: you've got the wrong man
- Has bitcoin creator been found?
- HTC Desire 310: more competition for the Moto G
- Mozilla questions why Dell charges £16 to install Firefox
- Move over Delia: IBM Watson is cooking tonight
- Eric Schmidt on the double-edged smartphone: friend and foe
- Getty joins the race to the bottom
- Hour of Code: five steps to learn how to code
- Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet review: first look
- Sony Xperia Z2 review: first look
- Samsung Galaxy Gear 2 review: first look
- Nokia XL review: first look
- Samsung Galaxy S5 review: first look
- Nokia X review: first look
- Make the most of your mobile data
- Old-school internet scams: five that just won't die
- Bitcoin believers not worried by Mt. Gox disarray
- How to hack your car
- Small server vs cloud: which is best for SMBs?
- Block party: why do millions play Minecraft?
- What to do if you’re still on Windows XP
- Microsoft Word: top 20 secret features
- Measuring me: is your body the future of security?
- The best mobile apps for business
- Windows Server 2012 R2: how the Datacenter edition could change SMBs
- Invoices and VAT: how to set up your documents correctly
- Nexus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4 Active: the best phone for avoiding screen burn
- How much is a social user worth?
- The key to choosing a secure password
- Thunderbolt Bridge: a fast Mac migration tool
- Should you advertise on Twitter?
- How to track a lost smartphone
- Self-publishing success: the best way to sell your book
- 1.6TB SSD: why would you need one?