PC fans commonly liken the speed of their computers to that of high-performance cars. It's therefore somewhat surprising to note that relatively few hardware manufacturers have released car-inspired PCs. Acer pioneered this phenomenon with its Ferrari laptop range, but it has taken almost two years for anyone else to follow suit.
Ever eager to widen its range of stylish laptops, Asus has just released the sports car-inspired Lamborghini VX1 range, which promises as much performance and style as its namesake.
The VX1 comes in two flavours: black, and the more traditional Lamborghini yellow. Both are attractive, but our yellow review sample makes an instant retina-searing impression straight out of the box, making it the more suitable poser's accessory. Asus says the laptops use the same paint finish as the iconic cars, incorporating subtle golden paint flecks that catch the light of the sun, as well as the famous Lamborghini logo.
The lid of the VX1 has a moulded plastic section that is reminiscent of a car boot spoiler, but it's actually inspired by the engine cover slats of a Lamborghini Gallardo. It's a nice touch, giving the laptop a sleek overall look. Unfortunately, the 'spoiler' section of our review sample was a slightly different shade of yellow to the main body of the laptop -- a flaw which Asus says won't be present on final retail models.
Look closely at the spoiler section and you'll see a set of lights hidden behind fine meshing. These three indicator lights are of little use, but make a nice talking point for anyone who loves fine details. We'd hoped the sea of yellow would flow onto the inside section of the laptop, but Asus has chosen a contrasting black. This isn't such a bad thing, but the effect is spoiled by a row of stickers advertising the quality of the laptop's TFT panel and its interior components.
This is a shame, as the stickers take your eyes away from the Lamborghini logo on the palm rest, which also has hundreds of tiny drilled holes, two of which hide power and hard drive access lights. There's also a vertical blue LED strip between the mouse buttons, which is a nice touch. The base of the laptop plays host to a business card holder which can accommodate a couple of ordinary size cards, but again we were disappointed by the lack of a yellow finish.
Any laptop bearing the name of a high-performance sports car deserves high-performance components, and the Asus Lamborghini VX1 doesn't disappoint. It's not the most insanely well-equipped laptop we've seen, but its 2GHz Intel T2500 CPU and 2GB of DDR2 RAM give it a very potent foundation from which to build.
We'd have preferred if the laptop used the 2.2GHz T2600, the fastest CPU in the Centrino Duo range, but this is an acceptable alternative. Graphics performance comes courtesy of a custom Nvidia chip, the Geforce 7400 VX. This is essentially a GeForce 7400 that was renamed for Asus' use, but it's a welcome and capable inclusion for a laptop that doesn't tout itself as a dedicated gaming machine.
Unusually, Asus has opted not to use a widescreen 16:9 display on the Lamborghini VX1. Instead, you get a 15-inch screen with a native resolution of 1,400x1,050 pixels. This is fine for everyday use, but its 4:3 aspect ratio limits the number of windows you can view side by side, and means you get a letterbox view when playing 16:9 widescreen movies. Some may take exception to the screen's glossy coating, which is a tad too reflective to use in direct light, but aside from this, we were very impressed with the image quality. Colours were recreated faithfully, and the screen was able to accurately display the subtle tonal differences.
Also impressive was the capacious 160GB hard drive. It's the largest laptop drive on the market and is perfect for storing a wealth of games and other multimedia content. You also get a dual-layer DVD rewriter drive that lets you burn up to 8.5GB of data per DVD disc. Unfortunately it's quite slow at 4x, and is a tray-loading model. We'd have preferred a slot-loading drive to help maintain the sleek lines of the laptop.
The Lamborghini VX1 features the usual assortment of ports, including three USB ports, a 4-pin Firewire port, plus a Gigabit (1,000Mbps) Ethernet port. You also get a 5-in-1 memory card reader which supports all major formats, but there's no sign of a modem -- you'll need to buy your own USB modem, as is the case with most new laptops.
All told, the VX1 has a strong specification, but its AU$4,199 price tag is in excess of what you'd pay for a laptop without the Lamborghini badge.
As a high-end laptop, we expected a lot from the VX1, and it delivers in most respects. Its 2GHz CPU helped it reach a commendable PCMark 2005 score of 4,212, which isn't quite enough to catch the all-conquering Acer Travelmate 8204WLMi's tally of 4,236, but the difference between these two systems is marginal.
Where the Lamborghini trails slightly is in its graphics performance. It clocked up a 3DMark 2006 score of 1,403, which again is lower than the Travelmate's score of 1,999. In real terms this equates to 48 frames per second in Doom 3 versus the Acer's 56.6fps, both at a resolution of 1,024x768 pixels.
Ultimately, the VX1 isn't as potent in this department as many of its rivals, but it provides sufficient graphics horsepower to run most games, albeit at modest resolutions and image quality settings.
Asus Lamborghini VX1
Company: Asustek Australia