The Asus X71R (£529 inc. VAT) is billed as a Home Theatre machine, but with its 17-inch Super-TFT screen could quite easily be described as a desktop replacement.
Weighing 3.7kg, this is a big laptop, but the use of black plastic makes it feel more compact than it actually is.
The lid has a high-gloss ﬁnish, while inside you'll ﬁnd a matt ﬁnish that has a ribbed effect to the palm rest, adding a tactile feel.
Big screen action
Battery life plays a secondary role with a machine of this size. That said, we managed to run the X71R for over three hours under test conditions.
The screen is a great size and, while it's not Full HD, the native resolution of 1440 x 900 pixels will be sharp enough for most users. We found the screen to be bright with an even tone. Graphics are handled by ATi's latest Mobility Radeon HD 3470 graphics card, offering enough power for basic gaming.
The large screen allows for a full-sized keyboard with separate numeric keypad. It's not the best keyboard we've seen, as the keys tend to rattle as you type and the stroke is a little short. That said, it's comfortable to use once you grow accustomed to it.
The touchpad is a good size and we liked the oversized mouse buttons.
Stereo speakers are positioned above the keyboard, which is a common placing on most laptops. However, we were surprised by the quality of these speakers.
Great for movies and games alike, we also found there was enough bass for playing music without it sounding too tinny.
Performance is very much in keeping with the majority of its rivals and is the only sign this is an entry-level machine. Powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo T5750, this 2GHz chip is backed by 3072MB of memory, which is more than enough for basic tasks. We found it loaded and ran Windows Vista Home Premium Edition with ease.
When running, this was a quiet laptop with no real noticeable fan activity. Even after running for long periods of time, we found it remained cool to the touch. When it comes to extras, you'll ﬁnd a fairly wide array of ports.
A 1.3-megapixel webcam sits above the screen. For multimedia use, you'll ﬁnd HDMI is ﬁtted as standard, as is an eSATA port for connecting to high-speed hard drives. There are four USB ports split across the two sides of the machine for adding peripherals.
The Asus X71R is a great laptop for anyone looking to do more than use the internet or write documents. At this price, you won't ﬁnd cutting-edge components but it's ﬁne for basic editing of photos and music. However, where this machine excels is in watching movies, as the screen is large and bright.