Acer TravelMate 4150LMi
Dell Latitude D610
LG LW60 Express
MSI Megabook S260
MSI Megabook S270
Samsung M40 plus
Toshiba Tecra M3
How we tested
CPU -- Intel
The Asus W5000A was the smallest and lightest of the notebooks tested at a mere 1.85kg. And it's not like Asus has cut any corners or dropped any features to reduce the size and weight, the charcoal grey notebook is quite robust. We are only left wanting additional stiffening in the case lid as it is too easy to flex the display, and the slightest bump at the rear will unsettle the image.
Unusually, there is no lock for the display instead it is held shut by hinge resistance. The 12.1in widescreen display sports 1280 x 800 native resolution, which is quite high given its small size. The image is bright and sharp but those with less than perfect eyesight may find it a bit of a strain after prolonged use. The display surface has a glossy finish but the image quality and apparent clarity is improved over those with the matt finish.
A surprise addition is the small 1.3 megapixel camera and microphone embedded in the top of the display bezel -- perfectly located for video conferencing duties. The camera can rotate 180 degrees and there is a snapshot button located on the right bezel along with a zoom control and a microphone disable button.
If you need to add an external monitor, the integrated Intel graphics processor is capable of driving the external display to 1920 x 1080, perfect for HD TV. The W5000A was one of the fastest of the Intel graphics configured notebooks in the 3D tests but it was still a long way behind the third-party graphics solutions.
The keyboard fits snugly in the small case and its usability is just as good as many of the larger notebooks we tested with quite large keys and good travel and feedback. And in a criticism that can be levelled at many notebooks, the keys on the keyboard could have better colour differentiation.
The small, attractive touchpad provides adequate feedback but lacks the bells and whistles of some of the other units that include additional scrolling functionality.
The speakers are mounted at the base of the display bezel, a location not noted for it's audio prowess, and unfortunately the low, squeaky sound proves no exception. However, the unit does have a SPDIF output for surround sound when connected to a surround-sound amplifier and speaker set.
Bluetooth is an option and the WLAN includes 802.11b/g, while LAN connectivity tops out at 100Mb. Connectivity is good with three USB2 ports, Firewire, and a slot for SD, MMC, and Memory Stick Pro memory cards. The single PC card slot actually has a hinged dust cover rather than the cheaper, easy-to-lose, slide-in plastic ones, and we understand the W5000A also includes a wireless radio frequency mouse receiver.
Our unit had a DVD ROM CD-RW combo drive but no burner. The 512MB of DDR2 memory of which half is mounted on the motherboard and the other 256MB in the single upgrade slot. A further upgrade, after removing the 256MB module, only extends to 768MB which is well short of the other products in this review.
With a 1.86GHz processor the W5000A performed well in the raw CPU benchmarks but performance in business applications was below average. In contrast the Content Creation application performance was surprisingly good, placing the notebook third overall.
The Asus has a similar battery capacity to the Dell Latitude, with the vendor claiming three hours of usable battery life but we were only able to extract two hours and 26 minutes -- this is in stark contrast to the four hours and 34 minutes we got out of the Dell.
The Asus was one of the coolest running notebooks with a exhaust fan temperature of just 24.5°C and a peak spot temperature under the base of just 31.5°C.