Asus A8Js review
A fast and well-designed notebook, but let down by an average screen and poor battery life
Review Date: 10 Nov 2006
Reviewed By: Dave Stevenson
Price when reviewed: (£1,199 inc VAT)
Notebook GPUs don't get the same amount of attention as their bigger, more powerful desktop cousins. But while Nvidia is making plenty of fuss about its latest desktop range, the GeForce 8800, there's plenty of movement on the mobile side too. As well as the introduction of the all-powerful GeForce Go 7950 GTX, there's the more modest 7700 card, seen here for the first time in the Asus A8Js.
The chip is a slight variation of the existing GeForce Go 7600, the technical difference being the reduction from a 90nm to 80nm manufacturing process. Plus, there are 12 pixel pipelines compared to the 7600's eight. In practice, the chip proved more than capable in our 3D benchmarks: at our lowest benchmark settings, Far Cry ran at an average of 43fps, while Call of Duty 2 managed 33fps. Upping the resolution of the screen to its native 1,440 x 900 resolution and running the games at their medium settings resulted in averages of 27fps and 18fps in Far Cry and Call of Duty 2 respectively.
Based around a T7200 2GHz Core 2 Duo CPU, there's plenty of processing power. In combination with 2GB of RAM, running at 667MHz, the overall benchmark score of 1.20 makes the A8Js fast enough for almost anything. The Hitachi hard disk also pushes the boat out with its 100GB capacity. It comes split into two partitions - one 56GB and another 37GB, presumably intended as a separate repository for documents and media libraries.
The optical drive will prove useful for offloading smaller amounts of data, as it caters for all formats of writable DVD including DVD-RAM. The A8Js complies with Intel's Centrino Duo branding, and as such has 802.11a/b/g WLAN, backed by wired Gigabit Ethernet. The back left-hand side of the chassis is home to a memory card reader, providing compatibility with SD card, MMC cards and Memory Sticks. A TPM chip from Infineon is a useful tool that will prove itself if you intend to adopt the A8Js as a laptop for business use, although the bundled software isn't as user-friendly as we'd like. The webcam in the top of the bezel is a more useful inclusion, despite its low 0.3-megapixel resolution.
Unfortunately, the A8Js has a couple of notable faults. One of these is the 14in 1,440 x 900 resolution screen, which suffers from being particularly reflective. We found that even in rooms lit by normal household incandescent bulbs reflections were distracting. There's also a noticeable amount of grain on the screen - another distraction while typing documents, as the page doesn't appear white but more a mottled grey. The screen isn't quite bright enough either. The "Splendid" video button, supposedly to improve "image contrast, brightness, skin tone and colour saturation" only proved a qualified success, boosting brightness minimally at the expense of colour accuracy.
We aren't big fans of the trackpad either, which has a distinctly sticky feel to it, while the mouse buttons are too soft. The keyboard is more of a plus, offering a good level of feedback and making typing comfortable. The only drawback is the slightly odd layout, transposing the Ctrl and Fn keys, and making the Enter key single height.
Battery life isn't a strong point - with minimal activity, the notebook lasted for 2hrs 50mins, which dropped to 1hr 1min when we pushed the machine to its limits. That's disappointing, as the 2.5kg weight makes the A8Js an otherwise practical choice for travellers - large enough to work comfortably at wireless hotspots, but light enough to be reasonably unobtrusive in a bag.
- eBay and PayPal split up
- iOS 8.0.2: old problems remain, new bugs added
- Technopop: London sci-tech festival is just for kids
- Windows 9: release date, features, free update and cloud version
- Chromebooks get version of Photoshop
- Retina display iMacs "coming soon"
- Apple patches ShellShock Bash bug
- Should the UK be a sharing economy?
- Want free Wi-Fi? It'll cost your first-born child
- Man jailed over Twitter threats to MP, campaigner
- 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
- Apple Watch, iPhone 6 and 6 Plus: Tim Cook's Apple back with a bang?
- BT Home Hub 5: how to get maximum speed
- 20 years of PC Pro: one-star reviews (including "the worst tablet we've ever seen")
- 20 years of PC Pro: our best covers
- Smartphone benchmarks 2014: what's the fastest smartphone?
- What is Kindle Unlimited and how does it work?
- BlackBerry Passport release date, UK price and specs
- OS X Yosemite release date, price and key new features
- How to change keyboard in iOS 8: customise the iPhone 6 keyboard
- The 7 best Chromebooks of 2014
- Apple iPhone 6 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: is the new iPhone 6 better than the Galaxy S5?
- How to install iOS 8 without deleting apps and data
- The best smartwatches of 2014: what's the best smartwatch?
- Nexus 6/X release date, specs and rumoured UK price
- 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