Mobility Overview

One of the fastest growing areas of the computer market is undoubtedly the mobile sector. There are many reasons for the increasing popularity of laptop and notebook computers: marketing, portability, and decreasing prices to name a few. Perhaps one of the biggest reasons that laptops are becoming more prevalent in the computing sector has to do with performance. For a long time, it simply was not possible to get the same high level of performance in a laptop as it was to get in a desktop computer. Combine that with CPU performance that was doubling every couple of years, and spending a lot of money on a laptop that was going to be outdated in a year or two was something most people could not justify.

Lately, however, performance increases have started to trail off, and more importantly performance requirements have remained largely static for several years. Sure, there are some applications that can still use every ounce of performance you can throw at them, but for typical computer use any system built within the past three years is more than adequate, provided you have enough memory and storage. That is not to say that desktop computers aren't faster than laptop computers, particularly if you spend the same amount of money on both platforms. There are plenty of things you can get in a desktop that you cannot fit into a laptop chassis; quad core CPUs, dual 8800 GTX graphics cards, and three or more hard drives all come to mind. The thing is, there's a huge percentage of the population that doesn't need any of those components, and they will be far better served saving money than blowing thousands of dollars on the absolutely fastest computer parts available.

A lot of people still ask for advice on whether or not they should purchase a laptop computer, and if so what type of laptop they should get. Before you even get to the point of deciding what type of laptop to buy, you need to decide if you really need/want a laptop. Portability is still the biggest benefit of laptop computers, so if you don't plan on moving your computer around much (if at all), the major reason to purchase a laptop is gone. Most people can easily justify the desire for portability, however, so the second factor is whether or not you are willing to spend a bit more money for the privilege. If you put together a desktop and laptop system that are relatively equivalent in terms of performance, the laptop will definitely cost more.

Finally, you need to make sure you are willing to live with what is largely a closed system. You can add a few peripherals to a laptop - USB and FireWire devices, PC Cards or ExpressCards - but it is difficult to fundamentally change a laptop over time. With a few exceptions, whatever parts a laptop has when you purchase it will be there for the life of the laptop. You might be able to increase memory a bit, replace the hard drive with a larger model, upgrade the CPU, and in rare cases you might even be able to change out the graphics module. However, the display, keyboard, motherboard, audio, graphics, and chassis are almost always going to remain the same.

Because of the monetary investment involved, what this means is that you really need to make sure you're getting a laptop you will be happy with. If at all possible, you should try out a laptop model in person before you purchase it. Things like the keyboard layout, display quality, as well as the size and weight can become critical factors in determining whether or not you will appreciate a laptop over the long haul. Some of these areas are going to be a purely personal preference, of course, so what one person may love another person might hate, making it all the more important that you try to test out a laptop yourself rather than merely going by what others say.

Luckily, in some ways at least, figuring out which laptop you should get has become easier. Two laptops from different manufacturers that contain the same components should perform very nearly the same, so if you can determine which components you want and find a laptop that matches up with those requirements, that is often sufficient. Unfortunately, because there are virtually limitless potential configurations and because laptops are as previously stated mostly a closed system, it may not always be possible to find a laptop that matches your specific desires. At that point, compromises need to be made, and we would recommend upgrading your component selections if at all possible rather than settling for something less than you initially wanted.

All of this is good information to have if you're considering purchasing a laptop, and as we look at a couple of ASUS models along with an ABS notebook in this review try to keep this overview in mind. We will naturally look at how these laptops perform, and we will also look at the components and features of each one. The warranty, service, and support offered are also important. All of these factors along with price will ultimately determine whether or not we feel a laptop is worth purchasing, and who might be interested in a particular model.

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  • unclebud - Saturday, December 30, 2006 - link

    "Seems all the usual suspects are on a holiday"

    more than likely they were just thrown speechless by such extreme bias in this "review"...

    newsflash - it can have a sorry gma 900 in it that can barely play rollercoaster tycoon and call it a "gaming laptop" if they want...
    ugh. i tried skipping around to get something valuable out of this "article", but there aren't any pictures of the models even...
    going to reread mr anand's review of his laptop to cheer myself up -- now that's a thorough review!
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, December 30, 2006 - link

    "but there aren't any pictures of the models even"

    Umm... what? There are 36 images (with enlarged shots) in the article, plus another 30 or so graphs/charts. If you're not seeing them, either your browser is incorrectly configured and is blocking the images, or else the servers are having issues. And if someone called a GMA900 a "gaming notebook" they would be lying; calling an X1700 laptop a gaming laptop is more of an exaggeration, but it's clearly not the fastest mobile GPU.

    I honestly have no idea what you mean by bias, so I'd be happy if you would point out areas that are "biased" rather than just giving a blanket label to the article.
    Reply
  • mino - Friday, December 29, 2006 - link

    Overall a nice review, those ASU are getting some serious popularity here in Europe while the reviews are nowhere to find..

    However, ranting for half a page about 14inch not having numeric keypad? I would have thought it was under you level of knowledge...
    While the KB is NOT perfect in any sense - small enter, small keys.. - the absence of numeric keypad is natural.
    Maybe you should spend a few weeks on road with some 17inch baby of yours to see how "important" numeric keypad really is...

    One thing I hate about A8J is that transreflective (CrystalSomething) screen. It is pretty much unusable the moment the sun shines, and it does shine a bit too much in the summer.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, December 29, 2006 - link

    I wasn't really complaining about the lack of a numpad on the 14" A8Js, merely pointing out that it's not there and you really can't fit one into such a chassis. My "rant" for half a paragraph was dedicated to the Fn key - and mostly I was just talking about the uses and making a minor complaint about it not being switched with the Ctrl key location. Unless you're looking somewhere else?

    I tried to discuss my feelings about the keyboards on each laptop, as that's pretty important with long-term use. Given what I do for a living (writing), I would actually avoid purchasing the G2P (as tested) and the Mayhem Z5 purely on the basis of the keyboard alone. The US G2P might actually be fine, as the primary issue I had was with the mixed up locations (relative to most keyboards) of the \ and " keys.

    As for the G2P, that's where I complained about the missing numpad, and it's a 17" model notebook. I complained about this same issue on the Dell XPS M1710 and E1705, as I use numpads on a regular basis and find them to be important. Ironically, the ABS includes a numpad, which I liked, but the other missing keys (Home - PgDn) were at least as irritating to me as the lack of a numpad. Obviously, my taste in keyboards isn't the same as every other person's, which I why I started the article talking about the importance of trying out laptops in person where possible - or try a similar laptop if that's all you can do.

    Ideally, I'd like a 17" notebook to have a numpad and a layout very much like the ABS, only shrink the width of the Backspace, \, Enter, and Shift keys and put in a column with Home, End, PgUp, and PgDn similar to how the two ASUS laptops do it. There's plenty of room there for those keys... or just extend the keyboard area down a bit and put the keys right above the cursors like on a regular keyboard.

    As for the two ASUS laptop LCDs, I didn't find the LCD on the G2P to have problems in bright light (sunlight is a stretch but possible). Hopefully all newer ASUS laptops have LCDs more like the G2P. The A8J on the other hand is definitely the worst LCD of the bunch and really suitable for indoor use only (or on overcast days). When I first used it I didn't think too much about the LCD quality, as most laptop LCDs can't compete with desktop LCDs in terms of brightness and color quality. After playing with the other notebooks, however, I became quite unhappy with the A8J LCD. Sure, it helps battery life, but all you need to do is have more brightness levels to allow for lowered battery use on LCDs like the G2P.
    Reply
  • mino - Saturday, December 30, 2006 - link

    Seems all the usuall suspect are on a holiday :)

    Maybe I should read a bit more thoroughy, and sllep more too :). Point taken.

    As for the display, the are two things. I am yet to see an glossy surface LCD to be usable on sunlight. They are nice and sharp for movies and indoors. But my observation is that the moment sun shines (also through an unprotected window) the display changes to a mirror - well, it called an "mirror effect" dispaly sometimes :). At the same conditionas even a poor-quality anti-glare one retains usability.

    That said I will have to pass the A8J, otherwise it is pretty solid bundle(I like the BT+DVI+14"WXGA+ combo).

    Should the time come when the notebook are regularly of built-to-order variety such is it with cars now. That way most of these "issues" with manufacturer isung bad display, VGA, CPU and so on would be a thing of the past.
    It would not even increase the price too much provided good automation is employed. Actually this would greatly simplify the abundance of notebook based of the same chassis with a bit different internals only.
    Hell, just ASUS has 5+ series with the same 15.4inch chassis...
    Reply
  • mino - Saturday, December 30, 2006 - link

    spelling, here you come :( Reply
  • francisco54 - Friday, May 16, 2014 - link

    hola mepodeia mamdar los draivers de este ordenador Reply

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