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Asus W5Fe review

Can powerful performance compensate for its other flaws?

The small screen is eminently suited to small business

Our Verdict

While a strong performer in many ways, the price and battery life let this machine down


  • Super storage capabilities

    Stunning screen

    Use of Windows SideBar feature


  • Poor battery life

    Mixed networking ability


Known for its range of high-performance laptops, Asus is the first manufacturer to use the Windows SideShow feature with its Asus W5Fe (£1399 inc. VAT). At 1.8kg, this is a very light system, however, with its poor 60-minute battery life, you won't want this as your main work laptop. As with all Windows Vista laptops, the operating system drains power far too quickly.

A benefit of Vista is its Windows SideShow feature, utilised here by a 2.8-inch screen on the outside of the chassis. Letting you check email and play music without switching on the laptop, usability is impressive. Another strength is build quality. With a wide and responsive keyboard, use at home or on the move is always comfortable. The textured touchpad and mouse buttons are equally good, and provide accurate control.

In common with most Asus laptops, performance is outstanding. Using an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, power beats all rivals in this group and is perfect for any task. Even when editing digital photos, while simultaneously scanning for spyware, the system was both fast and responsive.

Graphics performance is less powerful. Using an integrated Intel graphics card, high-performance 3D gaming is impossible. However, you can still run basic 2D games and watch DVDs with no loss of speed via the Asus' stunning screen.

Measuring 12.1-inches, this is quite a small screen, but it suits mobile business. Its 1280 x 800-pixel resolution lets you work with multiple windows simultaneously. Bright and vibrant, only its glossy Super-TFT screen limits outdoor use due to increased reflections.

Storage capacity is superb and unusual for such a small laptop. With a 160GB hard drive, even ardent multimedia collectors will struggle to fill this disk. Making it simple to back up data to external optical discs, a dual-layer recordable DVD drive is in place.

In Conclusion

For such an expensive system, network connectivity is mixed. While 802.11a/ b/g Wi-fiprovides high-speed wireless connectivity in the UK and abroad, Ethernet networks can only be configured at standard 10/100 Base-T speeds, but this won't hinder home and office use.

With outstanding performance and the addition of its SideShow screen, the Asus W5Fe is a great laptop for demanding users. However, its high price and poor mobility limit its potential for use on the move and mean better portable laptops can be bought for less money.