There are no fundamental flaws with the laptop, but it doesn't stand out from the crowd
Plenty of power
Disappointing battery life
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The Asus A Series is aimed at mobile users looking for an all-in-one solution that doesn't compromise on power. To this end, you'll find the Asus A8J (£1199 inc. VAT) comes with the latest dual-core technology, as well as a built-in DVD rewriter, which is surprising considering it weighs just 2.5kg. It manages to do this by the use of a 14.1-inch Super-TFT screen. Such a size allows for a more compact chassis.
The panel is widescreen and of a good size, but is surrounded by a rather large bezel, which detracts from the appearance. It's not the sturdiest of screens, and we found a degree of bounce as we typed. The display is quite thin and flexible, with most of the weight taken up by the main body of the laptop. Build quality proved acceptable, with a solid feel.
As you would expect from the compact design, the keyboard is rather cramped. It tended to rattle as we typed, but should meet the needs of the average user. The touchpad is a good size and comes with a single mouse button built of the same plastic sheeting.
We used the machine for a few days and while we were disappointed by the battery life, we managed to get a little over three hours, which is fine as long as you don't need to run applications all day long.
Powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo T7200, which runs at 2GHz, there is plenty of performance to be had from this machine, especially as it's paired with 2048MB of DDR2 memory. This level of power easily meets the needs of most users, which is well above what we'd expect for this processor.
The GPU is the ATi Mobility Radeon X1700, which comes with 512MB of dedicated memory. This card is an upgrade of the X1600 and offers ten per cent improved performance for no extra power usage. It's a mainstream card and will run most games with a fair degree of competence.
Multimedia is high on the agenda, and you'll find a DVI-out port on the back of the case, so you can hook it up to a HD Ready projector for larger images. There is also an S/PDIF port, as well as a 4-in-1 card reader, which means you can share digital media from your camera with ease. Finally, you'll find the now standard Asus 1.3-megapixel webcam built into the lid.
It's hard to pinpoint who the ideal user of the A8J would be. There are no fundamental flaws with the laptop, it's simply that it doesn't stand out from the crowd. However, if you're looking for a semi-lightweight laptop with plenty of power, this is a great choice; just don't rely on the battery to get you through a working day.
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