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Asus E402MA review

An affordable notebook with its head in the cloud

Asus E402MA
Asus E402MA

With limited storage and other specifications that are nothing to get too excited about, the Asus E402MA is really only a slight step up from cloud-centric Chromebooks such as the Lenovo 100s. If you are comfortable using a number of online applications, then this particular model is fast enough to deal with a variety of web-based activities.

For an entry-level 14-inch laptop it is also relatively slim and portable. Whilst the low price is appealing, the lack of storage stops the E402MA from feeling like it can truly compare with other fully-fledged laptops.

We liked

Despite the low price, the E402MA feels relatively well-built and could easily be slipped amongst books in a satchel or used on the lap with minimal fatigue.

Whilst storage space is very limited in capacity after Windows has eaten its share of the drive, this machine certainly feels quick, managing to start up from cold in just a matter of seconds. The lack of any hard disk or optical drives does mean that battery life is pretty respectable.

I was surprised to find out that the chiclet keyboard and expansive trackpad surpass this laptop's price tag, allowing for comfortable typing and easy multi-touch gestures. There is also a healthy selection of ports for easy connectivity.

We disliked

Beyond the storage limitations and poor quality webcam, the screen resolution and quality can – at best – only be considered basic. Equally, despite promising "SonicMaster" sound, I've heard tablets with speakers that equal or surpass those on the E402MA.

The lack of optical drive might frustrate some, though ultimately this is becoming much less of a necessity with fast downloads and streaming services rapidly overtaking physical media.

There's nothing offensive about the design, but equally there is nothing inspiring or unique about it either; the cheap plastic finish is an awful fingerprint magnet, too.

Final verdict

There is very little to make the Asus E402MA stand out from competitors despite the very low price. I can only assume that Asus hopes that those folks this model is aimed at will likely be making use of cloud applications and as such, the average specifications are not as much of an issue as they would otherwise be. Thankfully the battery life is also better because of this design philosophy.

Unfortunately the E402MA's storage limitations were made very obvious when we tried to install our simple suite of benchmarks, which quickly consumed every last remaining megabyte – a problem that might well become very frustrating for any user who wants more than just a web browsing machine.