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The new £699 (inc. VAT)/$699.99 Asus VivoBook S 14 is a solidly built 14-inch Windows 10 laptop running on a 10th generation Intel Core processor. And if you're looking for something a bit more striking than usual, it's available with a green or red lid in addition to black and white. That said, I could only find it online in the UK with the same black lid I was sent for review.
The metal chassis provides good protection for the innards. I was able to bow the lid in my hands a little, but overall this is a durable device. You'll have to carry 1.4kg (3.08lbs) around in your backpack or bag, though, and this laptop will occupy a space 32.49cm wide by 21.35cm deep by 1.59cm thick (12.79in. x 8.4in. x 0.62in.). The base has 'diamond cut' edges to the upper of three sides, which even when the lid is closed adds visual interest.
When you open the lid the eye is drawn to the Enter key, which has been given a marker-pen yellow surround. It really does look odd. The keyboard itself is comfortable to use, and individual keys are large and springy. However, there's a lot of flex -- enough for even a light-fingered typist like me to notice. This is really the only build issue of note, and it's a bit of a disappointment.
The trackpad has a really nice feel to it, and is responsive. Asus provides second screens in the touchpad on some of its ZenBook laptops (the ZenBook Flip 15 UX563FD and ZenBook 14 UX434FL for example), but the trickery is more muted in the VivoBook range. There's a small icon in the top right corner of the touchpad that, when tapped, brings up an embedded calculator that allows you to do some basic maths. I rather like this idea -- it's efficient, simple, and doesn't seem over-specified. If my laptop had this feature I am sure I'd use it. There is an option with no calculator and a fingerprint reader top right of the touchpad instead.
The 14-inch screen is what Asus calls 'frameless NanoEdge', although in fact there's a bit more bezel here than on some other models, and 'frameless' is a bit of a stretch. Asus doesn't give us bezel dimensions but I measured the short edge bezels at 7mm and the top edge at 11mm (plenty of room for the webcam, although it does lack a sliding privacy cover). The recess of the screen makes it look a little old-fashioned, and it's not touch sensitive. Still, it has great viewing angles, is quite bright, and the matte finish will appeal to those who don't like staring at their own reflection.
The Intel Core i5-10210U processor in the £699/$699 iteration of this laptop has 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. You also get a 12-month subscription to Microsoft 365 Personal and 1TB of cloud storage. There is also a Core i7-10510U variant, and options for up to 16GB of RAM and 1TB of on-board storage, but none of these are available in the UK.
There are plenty of ports and connectors on board. On the right edge are two USB 2.0 ports and a MicroSD card slot, while the left edge houses the round-pin power jack, a full-size HDMI port, a USB 3.2 port and a USB-C port as well as a 3.5mm audio jack. It's nice to see Wi-Fi 6 rounding out the connectivity choices.
SEE: Microsoft 365: A cheat sheet (free PDF)
Battery life is pretty good. I spent one four-hour session writing into a web app while streaming music about half the time and doing some web browsing, during which time the battery went from 100 percent to 55 percent. All-day battery life might be achievable with similarly undemanding workloads.
The Asus VivoBook S14 S443FA is a durable and efficient Windows 10 Pro laptop with a nifty feature in the touchpad-embedded calculator. All-day battery life is another plus point, but beware the flexy keyboard.
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