Asus G51Jx review

3D finally achieves gaming credibility, and looks set for the long haul.

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As mentioned above, we were very impressed by Nvidia's active 3D Vision technology, and the effect it produces. The system works using a set of wireless glasses that are connected to the G51Jx by an infrared module, both of which are bundled with the laptop.

We actually found synchronising the glasses to the infrared module to be quite a fiddly process first time round, despite a setup wizard and instruction manual, and even the nVidia representative had a small skirmish with the equipment when it was first demonstrated to us.

Once you've established a connection between the G51Jx and the glasses you're ready for action, and simply launching a game, opening a 3D video or viewing 3D photos will automatically cause the glasses to click into 3D mode.

The way the glasses work is surprisingly simple. Fundamentally each of the lenses shutter independently, with each eye offered a slightly different version of the image on the G51Jx's screen. Your brain naturally blends the two pictures into one image and the 3D effect is created.

Of the three types of 3D content you can view on the G51Jx (movies, photos and games), the first two are most consistent in producing a decent effect. In our experience the effect is less forced than when employed on the games, and we've been impressed by all the demos we've been shown.

But the G51Jx is predominantly a gaming machine, and ultimately it impresses here as well. nVidia's technology will turn pretty much any game into 3D, but some are more suited to the transformation than others – a comprehensive list can be found on nVidia's website here.

Many games have been designed specifically with 3D Vision in mind, yet some of the early ones, such as Resident Evil 5 and Batman Arkham Asylum, failed to make a splash when it came to the 3D effect. We especially found that colours were washed out and the screen brightness very dim.

Fortunately developers have reacted to the criticism, and the latest 3D Vision-ready titles such as Just Cause 2 and Battlefield Bad Company 2 are fantastic ambassadors for the technology, and it's fair to say that going back to playing these games in 2D is quite a depressing experience.

So there's no doubt that with the correct software, the 3D effect works great, and it's also worth mentioning that we suffered none of the nausea we experienced with Acer's Aspire 5738DZG-434G50Mn, which features a passive screen technology that'll have you reaching for a bucket after about 15 minutes.

The G51Jx's 15.6-inch screen is very bright when not in 3D mode, but we'd have expected a full 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution for such a high-spec machine. Nevertheless images are crisp enough, but, as with all screens with a shiny coating, reflections are irritating in bright light.

The G51Jx's backlit keyboard features the Asus chiclet design, but is a little spongy for our liking. The flex especially affects the centre of the board, and we found these keys to be a little sluggish to our inputs, which isn't ideal. Nevertheless the board is comfortable enough during everyday use, and you'll have no problem typing for hours on the G51Jx.

A dedicated number pad is included, which is great for left-handed gamers, and makes it quicker and easier to regularly input data.

The G51Jx boasts a decent array of ports. There's four USB 2.0 ports for connecting or charging any peripherals you may have, from a smartphone to an external gaming mouse, as well as both VGA and HDMI interfaces. These allow you to hook up to analogue and HD monitors respectively if you want to play games and view content on a larger screen. Obviously the monitor or TV would have to be nVidia 3D Vision-ready to enjoy 3D content on it.

The G51Jx also boasts a Firewire connection for importing video at high speeds from a camera, for example, and an eSATA interface for rapidly transferring data to a compatible external hard drive.

Although not as well built as the superb Alienware M17x, the G51Jx is well put together, and you'll be able to travel safe in the knowledge it'll absorb a few knocks and bangs.

Having said that, the 146-minute battery life will mean travel with the G51Jx is limited to the shortest of journeys, even though the 3.7kg machine isn't as hernia-inducingly heavy as the likes of the Alienware M17x.

As with the likes of the MSI GX660 a garish design with all the bells and whistles has been implemented. Flashing lights and aggressive paint schemes might not endear the G51Jx to everyone, but will certainly appeal to some.