The Asus N20A (£599 inc. VAT) is the third N-series machine we've seen from the Taiwanese company and sticks to the formula of impressive value for money, comfort and features wrapped up in a distinctive and stylish chassis.
Styling is virtually identical to other N-series laptops, with the same glossy, patterned finish to the plastics. Build quality is good, with robust plastics used. The 2.1kg weight is also highly portable.
This laptop features a 12.1-inch display, and is set within a thick bezel, making it look smaller than it actually is, but the resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels is more than high enough for viewing a couple of windows simultaneously.
Colour reproduction is good, and it's one of the brightest panels among the competition.
Surprisingly, this is the first N-series machine we've seen to feature an integrated graphics card. Even the N10 Netbook features a dedicated nVidia chip, so it's unusual to find the N20A is actually less capable when it comes to multimedia use. That said, as long as you're not seeking a gaming machine, it is more than fast enough for office tasks and browsing the internet.
The integrated GPU does benefit mobility, however, leading to a more impressive battery life, along with the six-cell battery that sticks rather crudely out of the rear of the chassis. We managed to use it for an amazing nine and a half hours away from a power point.
Poor quality keyboard
Our review sample came with an Intel Core 2 Duo T9400, which is reflected in the impressive performance. However, the final release model will have the slightly less powerful 2GHz Core 2 Duo T5800. It will ship with 3072MB of memory as standard, so you'll find it runs smoothly.
The keyboard is this laptop's weak point – it's not the worst we've seen, but the limited travel of keys means it won't suit all tastes. The keys are large, however, and it's easy to touch-type at speed.
Great value laptop
It's difficult to see where money has been saved on this machine, as you'll also find a wealth of features crammed in.
There's built-in 3G/HSDPA for broadband on the go, and both Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11n wireless network adapters. A fingerprint scanner helps to keep your files safe. The 320GB hard drive is generous, and a webcam above the display rounds off the specification.
At this price, the Asus N20A is a staggering achievement. Feature-packed, amazingly powerful and with an impressive battery life, it's the default choice for those seeking a small machine on a budget.