We remember when Asus' laptops looked like they were designed by 5-year-olds with broken crayons. The G2P gaming laptop was hideous, the V1J was meh and the A7Tc? Wow. Just... wow. Thankfully the firm's got its act together and begun to churn out gorgeous laptop after gorgeous laptop. Its latest stunner is the N50V -- a desktop replacement designed to handle all manner of hi-def content -- though pricing and release dates are yet to be confirmed. We'd wager it will be out before the end of the year.
We've said it before, and we'll say it again -- the N50V is a good-looking machine. The lid has delicate curved edges and a dark chocolate finish that almost appears purple in some lighting conditions. Look closely and you'll see dozens of vertical dotted lines that are reminiscent of the scrolling green code from the Matrix movies.
Lift the lid and it's a similar story. The wrist rest has the same Matrix-style lines, but is finished in a much lighter brown with hints of purple. We appreciate that some users may not like the colour -- having gotten used to the hordes of black and silver laptops -- but this makes a really refreshing change.
It's not just about colours, though. There are other nice touches including the rounded mouse selector buttons -- which have a fingerprint reader tucked between them -- and an absolutely gorgeous keyboard with a dedicated numerical keypad. It's exceptionally easy to type on because the keys are so large. We imagine users with small fingers might take a while to get used to them, but for the average person it's wonderful.
The N50V is a Centrino 2 laptop with a solid core specification. It comes with a Core 2 Duo T9400 with a core frequency of 2.53GHz, plus 4GB of RAM, and an Nvidia GeForce 9650M GT graphics card -- so it's a very capable all-round machine.
The 320GB hard drive is fairly middle-of-the-road by desktop PC standards, and even by laptop standards -- Asus' M70 managed to ship with a 1TB drive -- but this should only affect
pirates persistent file-sharers. Most notabele, however, is the inclusion of a Blu-ray drive. With this, you'll be able to watch high-definition movies on the laptop, or on a large, external display.
Our sample of the N50V came with no operating system at all, but final versions are expected to ship with a version of Windows Vista. It does, however feature Express Gate -- a Linux-based graphical user interface that boots in as little as 8 seconds. Here, you can perform most of the tasks you'd do in Windows, without the hassle of booting Vista. It has a Web browser, a music player, online games, a photo viewer, instant messaging client and Skype.