Interesting New Notebook from Asus/Review

Discussion in 'SFF, Notebooks, Pre-Built/Barebones PCs' started by Nightraptor1475, Jul 11, 2013.

  1. Nightraptor1475

    Nightraptor1475 Junior Member

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    So earlier this week I started a new position with a small law firm. They hadn't bought a computer for me yet so they told me to simply run down to Best Buy and pick out the one I wanted (within reason of course). My first thought of course was YUCK!! Best Buy?? But nonetheless I really did need a machine and needed it fast so I went down there to see what I could find. I needed a laptop with a decent size screen as it is going to be used as my primary machine to perform work on and some of the documents we work with can be rather unwieldy. Still I wanted something that was relatively thin and light. A must was a 1080p screen.

    Ultimately I came across the Asus Q501la which I had never heard of and couldn't find any reviews of. Still since it was the right price ($750), fit the specs, and I wasn't paying for it I went ahead and pulled the trigger. I must say after using it for a few days I'm pretty impressed given the price. The thing is very Macbook Pro 15" like in footprint and thickness (.9" thick according to the site, but it seems thinner than that to me). It weighs a touch more at 5 pounds, but is still pretty light for a 15". It is built out of aluminum/magnesium on the cover and keyboard. The back is some kind of soft touch high end plastic. Finally the screen is edge to edge glass . This does lead to the bezel being somewhat glossy which can be annoying but given that it is continuous with the screen it looks much better than most glossy bezels I have seen.

    Specs:

    Core i5 - 4200U (New Haswell Processor and plenty of power for a business machine)
    6 GB DDR-3 Memory (seriously? not a huge deal and enough for me, but what bean-counter thought of this?)
    750 GB Hard Drive (5400 RPM, wish it was a SSD, but forgivable at $750)
    15.6" 1080p IPS TOUCHSCREEN!!! (this screen is gorgeous. I didn't need a touchscreen, but given that I had no choice but Windows 8 it is a very nice bonus)
    Back-lit Keyboard
    3 USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, Network, Combo Audio, SD Reader
    802.11n wireless
    4 Cell Battery
    Store display indicated 4.5 hour battery life, but I've seen 6 doing general office work.

    Things Asus got right
    - Form factor is excellent for someone using this as a primary productivity machine that needs to be portable is well. Macbook Pro like balance
    - Screen is GORGEOUS
    - Performance meets most needs
    - Back-lit keyboard and touchscreen for Windows 8 are nice touches
    - Large Touch-pad actually works quite well which is something I've had issues with on Asus' before.
    - Looks great, although the black aluminum case, and silver keys may not be for everyone

    How to make it a 10 out of 10 machine
    - Up memory to 8 GB
    - Change processor to i5-4250U to get HD5000 graphics instead of HD4400
    - Exchange HDD for 256GB SSD
    - The keyboard isn't the best in the world to type on. Personally I'm not a fan of the new "island" key design, but it is everywhere so I have to live with it. Even then it could be better
    - After these upgrades price for $999

    http://www.bestbuy.com/site/15.6%22+...01la&cp=1&lp=1
     
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  3. skriefal

    skriefal Golden Member

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    I'd add two items to make it 10 out of 10:
    - Drop the number pad, and center the keyboard and touchpad under the screen.
    - Drop the island keyboard. Real keyboard please.

    Still, looks not bad for $750. Hopefully we'll see more IPS-equipped laptops.
     
  4. Nightraptor1475

    Nightraptor1475 Junior Member

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    Yeah I understand that a lot of people might not like the number pad. In my line of work it actually comes in handy and as a result for my needs I am OK with things being off center in order to gain the number pad. I think I mentioned that the keyboard was not great, I just haven't seen any recent keyboards without the island design. I too prefer the older design though.
     
  5. TheStu

    TheStu Moderator<br>Mobile Devices & Gadgets
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    I don't understand the hate for island/chiclet style keyboards. When implemented right, they are just as good as the older design. It wasn't like every laptop with the traditional style keycaps was the OMG BEST KEYBOARD EVAR!!!, there were plenty of bad eggs.
     
  6. jaydee

    jaydee Diamond Member

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    I don't see anywhere where it states the resolution? My main question is, can the HDMI port drive a 1440p monitor?


    edit: It does look pretty solid, particularly if it is able to drive 1440p, though I would prefer DisplayPort over HDMI in either case. I also wonder if there is an msata slot somewhere in there?
     
    #5 jaydee, Jul 12, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2013
  7. marcplante

    marcplante Senior member

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    Yes, their screens are gorgeous. I still cling to the need for an optical drive, though, since I'll use it to watch DVDs on the road, etc.
     
  8. skriefal

    skriefal Golden Member

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    This is off topic, but I have to at least offer my thoughts...

    The problem is with the "when implemented right" bit. Most that I've seen are implemented poorly, and seem to be designed to maximize appearance with little thought given to function. My # 1 complaint -- keycaps should not be flat.
     
    #7 skriefal, Jul 12, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2013
  9. TheStu

    TheStu Moderator<br>Mobile Devices & Gadgets
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    Ok, but like I said, it's not like everyone and their brother was doing the old keyboards right either. The trackpad, keyboard, and monitor are all things that need to be implemented right, and some do it better and some do it worse. And it has ALWAYS been that way.
     
  10. Nightraptor1475

    Nightraptor1475 Junior Member

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    I'm not sure where the resolution is stated on the Best Buy website. I can tell you for a fact that it is a 1080p IPS screen. As far as the HDMI port I don't have access to a screen with that high of resolution to test it out. It is the latest Haswell processor so in theory at least it should support it.

    As to a mSATA slot I did try to open it, but it seemed a bit difficult to get the panel off after taking out the screws. Given that it is a work machine I didn't want to dig as much as I would if it were my own machine so I can't answer that question. We will have to wait till someone else decides to tear one a part.
     
  11. GusSmed

    GusSmed Senior member

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    You can? Link to the specs somewhere? Because Best Buy just says "HD", which for Best Buy is code for 1366 x 768. I've not been able to find a single thing about this laptop other than pages shilling for it with no hard information. Every other Asus laptop I've found in this size range has been 1366 x 768.
     
  12. Nightraptor1475

    Nightraptor1475 Junior Member

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    I can confirm on a couple of fronts. First off generally IPS displays are not 768p and the Best Buy site clearly states that it is an IPS display. Secondly I actually own the laptop and am typing on it right now. A quick check of the settings confirms that it is 1080p. Thirdly comparing it to the 768p laptop I have sitting on my desk is like comparing a cheap boombox to a high end 7.1 channel surround sound system.
     
  13. royo

    royo Member

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    This touch screen obsession is lame.
     
  14. GusSmed

    GusSmed Senior member

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    I stopped in at Best Buy today because I wanted to decide how I felt about caving in at getting a 15" instead of a 14" laptop, and I saw the Q501la there. In-store, the card says 1920 x 1080, which is information missing from the web site. It's pretty nice looking.

    I was primarily there to look the Asus Q550LF, which like the Q501LA appears to be Best Buy only. Like the Q501LF, it's 1920 x 1080, but it sports a GeForce GT 745M.

    I ended up ordering a HP Envy 15t Touchsmart Quad, because it was about the same price, and traded the optical drive for a much better processor (quad core I7-4700MQ, about 3x the performance). The HP has an mSata slot, which I intend to fill with a 256 GB SSD.
     
  15. Alpina

    Alpina Member

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    Any ideas will this model will be available in other countries or shops? Price is really nice for this :)
     
  16. Binarycow

    Binarycow Golden Member

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    I bought this laptop about 10 days ago after reading it here in this post. Loved the screen, loved it! the design was also pretty good and it did not flex easily compared to comparable models.

    I ended up returning it the next day after finding out how slow the Qualcomm Atheros wireless chip set used by this model was. My setup is about 30 ft away from the wireless router, there is a sheet-rock wall in between and I constant got connected at about 500 Kbps which was way too slow compared to what my other two laptops could get from the same spot.

    Fast-forward to about 5 days ago. My B-Day is this month so BB sent me a 10% off coupon. Went back and picked up this laptop again since the price was simply too good with the 10% off deal.

    Ordered this USB wireless mini-adaptor from newegg, http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16833704140
    Got it yesterday and it improved my connection speed greatly. Totally worth losing a USB port. That thing is also pretty tiny, which isa great plus.

    in summary:

    positive:

    Amazing screen with practically unlimited viewing angle
    fast CPU and decent GPU
    running very cool
    very quiet, much quieter than my other laptops/netbook
    great build
    large HD, fast enough for what I need
    no brick-size power adopter
    not too heavy (5.5 lbs)
    not too much crapware installed
    battery lasts reasonably long.

    negative:

    weak built-in wireless adapter
    keyboard could be better built
    Windows 8 (I'm pretty comfortable with it but still think it's a huge POS). On the plus side, this OS seems pretty frugal when it comes to eating up the available RAM.
    crappy Asus software
    battery is not easily accessible
     
  17. KentState

    KentState Diamond Member

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    This looks like a good laptop to replace my wife's 6 year old HP. Being a tax-free holiday, I will try to get it this weekend. BTW, is it possible to swap the HDD for SDD if I have one laying around?
     
  18. Quantos

    Quantos Senior member

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    Hi all. I'll add my thoughts to this topic as I acquired a Q501LA this weekend. Overall, I'd say this laptop is incredible value. I got it at 699$ USD and added a 250GB Samsung EVO at 170$ CAD. Overall it's about 900$.

    I'm saying it's very good value because I simply couldn't find a laptop that I could buy at roughly the same price for the same specs and quality. Most other laptops seem to keep the damn 1366x768 screens up above 1000$.

    I must say, I was skeptical of the purpose of a touch screen on a laptop beforehand, but after roaming Windows 8 a little bit, I find I use it more than I thought I would. Numerous tasks are in fact simplified by the use of touch and I'm starting to understand why Microsoft is pushing them so hard.

    As others have said, the screen provides very good picture quality and viewing angles.

    The one point others have mentioned is the weak built-in wireless chip. I must say I haven't experienced this so far. Also, I'm seeing in a post below that the chip used was a Qualcomm Atheros? If I recall correctly, I saw an Intel chip when I opened the computer to replace the HDD.

    Speaking of HDD, the process to swap for the SSD was pretty simple: I simply unscrewed the bottom cover, pried open a corner of the cover and followed around in order to remove it completely. From there, swapping the HDD for the SSD is very simple: 4 screws hold the HDD in place. It is standard laptop size, of course, so a standard 7mm SSD fits perfectly.

    I don't have figures for battery life or performance yet; I only just had time to install yesterday, but I'll update this post with relevant information as it becomes available to me!

    ^_^
     
  19. celamantia

    celamantia Junior Member

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    I have one of these laptops; I have been pretty happy with it so far.

    Near as I can tell, it is almost identical to an ASUS N541LA with a different wireless chipset. In fact, if you go to download docs for the Q501LA, it downloads the manual for the N541LA.

    The wireless card is ASUS part number AW-NB126H and appears to hold both the WiFi and Bluetooth functions. It looks like a half-length Mini PCI Express card, so it is probably upgradeable to a better WiFi.

    There is an empty slot on the motherboard labelled SSD; it also looks like a Mini-PCI Express slot. I wonder if the N541LA has something in this slot.

    Chris
     
  20. celamantia

    celamantia Junior Member

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    Motherboard
    [​IMG]

    WiFi card
    [​IMG]

    SSD slot
    [​IMG]

    RAM
    [​IMG]

    Battery
    [​IMG]

    Chris
     
  21. celamantia

    celamantia Junior Member

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    The lack of an optical drive was the only thing that kept me from jumping at this the moment I saw it... I went back and forth between this and a similar Dell (for $100 more) that had the optical, but the 1920x1080 screen over the Dell's 1366x768, plus the backlit keyboard, won me over. I went ahead and bought an external LG drive at Best Buy but it feels so much slower than an internal unit.

    The touchpad being offcenter is one of the things I dislike; I still haven't adapted and will probably eventually solve it with a Bluetooth mouse when I travel. When I am sitting down at home for serious work, I hook it up to my external monitor, keyboard and mouse anyway (also not a fan of chiclet keys but almost impossible to get anything else these days).

    Chris
     
  22. marcplante

    marcplante Senior member

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    just crack the case and plug in an SSD. It shouldn't void the warranty...YMMV Check with retailer, but it generally doesn't
     
  23. celamantia

    celamantia Junior Member

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    I just ordered an Intel Centrino Wireless-N 2230 WIFI Bluetooth BT Mini PCI-E Card from eBay ($10 shipped!), we'll see if it works in place of the Atheros. Theoretically, with that change the laptop should support Intel wireless display.

    Chris
     
  24. Binarycow

    Binarycow Golden Member

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    I had to take my first unit back because of a defective keyboard. Bestbuy traded me for another unit, this one has the Intel wireless chipset in it. Wireless connection now is much better.
     
  25. RossMAN

    RossMAN Grand Nagus

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    Unless I can find a 10% off coupon, I think I'll pass on this laptop due to:
    1) Call me old fashioned but I prefer black colored keys instead of that gray or whatever it is.
    2) Possible Wifi issues.

    Otherwise this looks like a great deal on a solid laptop.
     
  26. stoicblitzer

    stoicblitzer Junior Member

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    hey guys thanks for posting these pictures! the pics and discussion convinced me to buy one. i gotta say that i really love it. the hardware/finish and screen are amazing. no visible fan slots is really awesome. the finish is a fingerprint magnet though. without a clean install, it's decently fast. getting ready to do a clean install of 8.1 to see how fast it can be with the 5400rpm HDD before i shell out for an SSD.

    i wanted to mention that mine came with the Intel 7260 dual band WiFi. Maybe I got a newer date of manufacture than previous poster? its been rock solid although I haven't tested range cuz my house is small, but it hasn't been dropping connection.

    Is that "SSD slot" pictured above an mSATA slot? i've never used one before. can you confirm what i'm thinking about this? Option A) replace HDD with 2.5" SSD to reduce weight/power slightly, b) keep HDD and format OS partition + add mSSD w/ OS to mSATA slot so I can have more storage, C) add mSSD w/ OS to mSATA slot and remove HDD to reduce weight/power. am i correct?