While not yet a high-street name on the level of Sony or Toshiba, Asus is quickly growing in recognition. Offering high-quality laptops at reasonable prices, the Asus W2P (£2099 inc. VAT) provides high-definition entertainment and is the most powerful laptop we've seen so far.
A common theme of Asus laptops is their luxurious design. Finished in brushed aluminium, the W2P is no exception. Providing a striking yet understated appearance ideal for the style-conscious consumer, the quality of the finish is impressive.
This quality extends to the 17-inch screen. Displaying at a resolution of 1680x1050 pixels, images are sharp and clear. Brightness is also stunning, and the Asus can be viewed in comfort from a distance, made all the more simple by the inclusion of a remote control.
The Asus is one of a growing number of laptops to support high-definition HD DVD playback. Audio/Video (AV) quality is stunning when playing compatible discs. Recording to HD DVD discs is not supported, but you can write to DVD/-RW and CD-RW discs.
For use with external AV equipment, high-definition video can be output via an HDMI-out port. Dolby 7.1 surround sound can also be sent to compatible amplifiers. A built-in TV tuner allows you to watch digital/analogue broadcasts, and record to the Asus' large 160GB hard drive.
The W2P delivers the best mobility in this group. While its weight of 3.6kg made it difficult to carry the Asus on the move, our tests revealed a battery life of more than three hours, which is outstanding for a high-performance media centre.
Most notable was the performance of the Asus when running multiple high-performance tasks. Powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, day-to-day ability was by far the highest we've ever seen at WL. If raw power is what you need, the Asus delivers in spades.
Gaming performance is also capable, but fails to match such high levels. Using ATi's flagship X1700 graphics card, most modern games will run with ease. However, performance is still far from the 3D power offered by both some of its peers.
Usability is a strength of Asus laptops and the W2P doesn't disappoint. The quality and responsiveness of the keyboard are high, and the touchpad is textured for ease of use.
Only the lower screen resolution, smaller hard drive and lack of a writable HD DVD optical drive kept Asus from being outstanding. A fantastic media centre in every way; the Asus W2P comes highly recommended and is worth every penny.