Billed as the 'Asus Revolutionary Notebook Series', the Asus F3Jp (£1199 inc. VAT) has a lot to live up to, but we were quietly surprised at how well it coped with the task. This is a semi-portable machine weighing in at 3.1kg and designed with the multimedia user in mind.
Asus is developing a strong brand identity, with the design being simple and understated. However, we were impressed with how sturdy the overall build quality was. The chassis is mainly plastic, but there was little or no flex in the case.
The keyboard proved far sturdier than we've seen on earlier Asus laptops, with the keys being firmly mounted with plenty of travel.
The touchpad is large and widescreen to match the panel, and instead of separate mouse buttons you'll find a strip button, which acts in the same way and was highly responsive. Overall, we were impressed with how well built the F3Jp was.
This is an Intel Core 2 Duo machine, with a processor running at 2GHz, which is more than powerful enough to run all your current applications and anything else you're considering using.
Backed with 2048MB of DDR2 memory, we found this a smooth running machine, regardless of the number of applications we had running. This was supported in benchmark tests, with a MobileMark 2005 score of 264, which is well ahead of our standard £1000 benchmark machine.
The 15.4-inch Super-TFT panel offers excellent brightness and, with the inclusion of Asus's new Splendid Technology, you can switch the contrast and brightness to match your needs. So if you're watching a DVD, you can set the contrast to more balanced tones, while for presentations it will automatically make the white sharper.
Sadly, this feature doesn't take account of battery levels, so won't help conserve your battery when on the go. To do this you'll need to define the Power4Gear battery applet. That said, we found this machine lasted well over four hours under normal test conditions, so you won't need to worry about running out of power.
This is the first example we've seen of ATi's Mobility Radeon X1700 graphics chip, which replaces the X1600 in the mid-range market. We'd seen demos of the chip in action, so were aware it offers 10 per cent more performance at no extra cost to battery power, but this was the first test sample we've had bear this out.
If you want a gaming solution, but your budget won't stretch to the high-end machines, this is a great compromise, as it'll handle most games with ease.