That said, the W6Fp hasn't been designed with gaming in mind. It's more about style, portability and connectivity. As mentioned earlier, the array of ports is impressive, and being a Centrino laptop, 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi comes part and parcel. A Bluetooth 2.0 module is also included, which is great for transferring files or synchronising contacts with mobile devices. For convenience, both wireless protocols can be switched on and off via the switch located on the left above the keyboard.
Next to this switch is a switch for the Asus Power4 Gear+ utility that offers several power modes that vary CPU frequency, screen brightness and Windows' power-management schemes -- all of which affect battery life. Seven modes (High performance, Game, DVD movie, Email/Office, Presentation, Audio listening, Battery-saving) become available when you unplug the mains.
The 13.3-inch TFT WXGA display is of the widescreen variety, with a 1,280x800-pixel resolution -- ideal for watching movies on the go and for keeping the default font size legible. It has a glossy coating that Asus refers to as a 'Colour Shine glare-type'. Granted, the colours do shine through -- not necessarily accurately, but it definitely enriches them. As for the term 'glare-type', there's no disputing that -- in all but the darkest of rooms the screen is very reflective.
Storage is catered for by a capacious 100GB hard drive, and the integrated DVD rewriter does away with the need to carry a separate optical drive. It's a multi-format dual-layer writer too, which can write up to 8.5GB of data to dual-layer DVDs. It can also write and rewrite CDs at 24x and 16x respectively, and can write to standard DVD at up to 8x. This drops to 4x for DVD + and 'minus' RW formats and around 2x for dual-layer discs.
With a hard drive this big, many users will no doubt store and watch movies on the W6Fp. With this in mind Asus includes a neat little utility -- Asus Splendid Video Intelligence -- to boost the contrast, brightness and vibrancy of the picture. This can help bring out the detail in dark scenes. The built-in speakers are rather tinny so we recommend using headphones or external speakers.
Completing the package is a matching leather-clad USB optical mouse, a snazzy sleeve and shoulder bag, and a reassuring two-year collect and return UK warranty (one year for the battery). Software includes Windows XP Pro SP2, Symantec Norton Internet Security 2005, and a helpful set of Asus applications for configuring and managing the W6Fp.
During everyday use we found little at fault with the W6Fp's overall performance. As mentioned before, hardcore gaming isn't really practical, but it coped fine with basic image editing. It did become a little sluggish with large TIFFs, but that's understandable. It was also very quiet -- the only real indication that the fans were in operation was an occasional stream of warm air that blew across from the vents on the right side.
Synthetic benchmarking with PCMark 2006 revealed a score of 3,040, which is good and in line with our expectations. 3DMark 2006 testing revealed a score of 218, which is rubbish. An awful F.E.A.R frame rate of 7fps only serves to reinforce the point that the W6Fp isn't a gaming machine.
Battery life was fine, too, but it is variable. With the 3-cell and 6-cell batteries, we respectively managed around 105 minutes and 180 minutes for general typing and surfing with the Power Gear4+ system set to 'high performance'.
One thing that did stand out was the range of the Wi-Fi aerial. It regularly picked up four or five networks dotted around a four-storey block of apartments -- including a notoriously weak signal previously undetected by a PC equipped with a Wi-Fi expansion card.
Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Elizabeth Griffin