Asus W5A Notebook Computer Reviewed

The Asus W5A is one of the most compact and stylish notebook computers ever released by ASUSTeK Computer. It has the solid functioning characteristics of the well-known IBM Thinkpad, with the soft and simple elegance of the Apple iBook.

The W5A (aka Asus W5 and ASUS W5000A) is manufactured in two stylish models; white and black. It comes with a built-in 1.3 megapixel 180 degree swivel webcam, a high-resolution 12.1-inch widescreen display with glare-technology and Color Shine. These features make its display technology one of the brightest and richest in color contrast that can be seen on a portable computer today. The camera wouldn’t be all that much to talk about except for the fact that Asus has bundled LiveFrame software with the system, it was developed for users to easily capture, record and playback their photos and videos.

Asus has included a soft nylon notebook bag and sleeve to create a complete package, you can take your W5a and accessories with you in a protected but fashionable manner. Also in the box is the Logitech RAA93a 3 button mouse with scroll wheel, it connects seamlessly to the built-in RF receiver. An excellent mouse that performs well within 3 feet of the notebook, It will run for several weeks on just two AA batteries.

As can be expected, a suite of utilities come loaded on the W5A. Here is what comes installed right form Asus; Asus Live Update, this keeps your Bios, Drivers and Applications synced with Asus’ main database. Norton Internet Security; locks down the system from any virus or Internet attacks. Power4 Gear; This can be controlled by the external button next to the Wireless on/off switch, it lets you manage your power consumption instantly by “shifting gears” for performance tuning like battery life, CPU performance and System Standby Timers. PC Probe; a utility that continuously monitors your computers vital components such as fan rotations, voltages, and temperatures. LifeFrame; This application puts the 1.3 megapixel camera to use, with it you can capture video at 640×480 (with noticable ghosting effects in low light conditions), as well as still photographs with the capability to email them. A quick, easy and somewhat dirty way (no post editing capabilities) to sending photo or video clips while on the road. It can rotate to face you for web-caming fun or flip it the other way to record or snap a shot of what’s ahead.


Interface and Design

“The ASUS W5000A’s stylish design for modern sophistication is perfect for today’s urban metropolitans who demand more than functionality in digital devices.” Asus W5 Launch Quote.

From the silver and aluminum trim, to the soft blue LED indicators, the W5A is one of the sexiest notebooks available on the market. The touchpads left and right clickers sport a brushed aluminum finish. The power button, glowing in blue, has a silver ring surrounding it. Enclosed in a grill that resembles a 30’s RCA Ribbon Velocity microphone is the 1.3M camera and front speaker panel just below the LCD. The two-tone silver and white mouse goes along quite well with the rest of the soft flat white finish of the W5A.

Features and Functions

On the top-side are the status indicators, these are located just below where your left hand palm would rest. From left to right we have the Power, Battery Charge, Hard Drive Activity, Wireless Lan and Bluetooth indicators, glowing blue is sweet.

Just above the escape key is the Wireless Switch and Power4 Gear button. The wireless switch enables or disables your Bluetooth and WLAN connections; a status window pops up at the time it is engaged asking you which you would like to activate/deactivate. The Power4 Gear button toggles your performance settings; by default we have Super Performance, High Performance, Game, DVD movie, E-mail/Office, Presentation, CD-Audio, Battery Saving. They can be renamed and adjusted to whatever type of power saving and performance options you choose.

Above the power button next to the LCD panel is the Mic Mute, Camera Zoom (digital zoom) and Camera Capture, this is pretty straightforward and needs no explanation.

On the left-side, we have the Modem Port (56K V.90), Lan Port (10/100), IEEE1394 Port (100-400Mbits/sec), USB 2.0 Port, Flash Memory Slot (SD, MMC, MS-Pro) and the CD-RW/DVD Optical Drive. I was slightly disappointed not to have DVD burning capabilities, it was very unstylish. On the right-side is the PC Card Slot, Audio Volume Control, Microphone Input Jack, Headphone Output Jack, USB 2.0 Port, and the Display Output for VGA-compatible devices.

On the backside is the Power DC Input, TV-Out Port (S-Video Connector), Battery Pack (Comes with a 3-cell battery rated by the manufacturer at 4 hours) and Kensington Lock Port.

Performance

Although the Asus W5A makes an excellent mobile device for office work, graphics type functions with Photoshop and other similar resource intensive applications do suffer, mainly on the account of the 4200RPM hard drive. The systems overall performance could change drastically with a faster hard drive, of course this is obvious, and the fact that it does not have a 3D graphics card is also a major draw back.

Benchmark scores achieved by the Asus W5A;

MobileMark 2005 Ratings

DVD Playback battery life rating: 168 minutes (2.8 hours)
Wireless 2005 Runtime test: 184 minutes (3.06 hours)

SYSmark 2004 SE Rating 128

Internet Content Creation Overall = 151
Internet Content Creation 3D Creation = 156
Internet Content Creation 2D Creation = 161
Internet Content Creation Web Publication = 136

Office Productivity Overall = 109
Office Productivity Communication = 90
Office Productivity Document Creation = 110
Office Productivity Data Analysis = 131

Learn more about these scores from Bapco.

Bang for your Buck

At the price of US $1599.00 the W5A is a great deal considering the size, features and quality of display built into this system. The most impressive aspect of the notebook is it’s sleek and stylish design, and slim form factor.

Asus W5A Specifications

- Intel Pentium M 740 (1.73GHz, 533MHz FSB, 2MB L2 cache)
- Microsoft Windows XP Professional
- Intel Centrino Mobile Technology with Intel 915GM Chipset
- 12.1″ widescreen WXGA (1280×800) “Color-Shine” LCD display
- 40GB hard drive (Hitachi HTS4240 4200RPM)
- 512MB DDR2 400, upgradeable to 768MB
- 802.11a/b/g wireless, Bluetooth (optional feature), RF mouse receiver
- Matsushita UJDA765 CD-RW/DVD-ROM (24x CD-R/24x CD-RW/24x CD-ROM/8x DVD-ROM)
- 1.3M pixel web-camera
- 3 X USB, TV-Out, Card Reader, 1394, PCMCIA
- 4 lbs, 11.7 x 8.7 x 1.2 inches

Additional Photographs


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