Computers & Laptops

Asus NX90 review: Beauty with the brawn

Mahananda Bohidar | Updated on August 17, 2011 Published on January 26, 2011

09/12/2010: View of Asus NZ90 laptop. Photo: S_S_Kumar   -  THE HINDU

Minimalism is an abstract concept for gadget designers. It becomes more complicated if the gadget at hand is a laptop, what with all its keys. It becomes even more complicated if the laptop is going to have to live up to the standards set by the ?God of Minimalism? in consumer electronics.

I am staring at the ASUS NX90 on our test bench and wondering if this massive, shiny laptop does justice to its rare partnership with Bang & Olufsen. Does the NX90 deliver on looks and performance just like the Danish brand does?

At first sight

Designed by David Lewis, who has been designing luxury sound systems for B&O for more than 40 years now, the NX90 is definitely a looker. You can?t help but let out a little gasp when you pull the laptop out of the box. The top lid is all polished aluminium, almost mirror-like, which integrates the LED display that juts out from either side to be able to accommodate the B&O speakers ? the NX90?s USP.

The display is a whopping 18.4-inch glossy screen which can playback content in Full-HD. The LED-backlit display is great to watch movies on although it doesn?t match up to the display on an iMac. The huge screen alleviates any worry you might have about viewing angles with the image quality remaining more or less the same no matter which angle you view it from.

Sound boosters

The Bang and Olufsen ICEpower in-built stereo speakers are placed on both sides of the screen. According to the company, the speakers weren?t placed in the main body but on the lid to ?reduce the pickup of mechanical noise during audio playback?. Another advantage of the speakers being aligned with the monitor is that when you listen to music or watch a movie the sound is directed primarily towards you and not at awkward angles thereby muffling the quality of the audio.

Goes without saying, that the sound quality in the NX90 was crystal clear although we thought all tracks we played were slightly heavy on bass when we hadn?t made any tweaks to the equaliser settings. We watched a couple of HD videos and streamed some songs and the speakers gave us amazing clarity even with the volume pumped up. In a couple of scenes in the movies we watched, we could experience the surround sound effect recreated by the embedded software and reproduced by the speaker system, which is a pretty amazing prowess for a laptop.

Gaming prowess

We tried out Doom 3 on the NX90 and playing it on the huge screen was a delight. The graphics of the fighting sequences at the Mars colony played without any hitches or stutters. But to navigate through the game via keyboard controls requires you to sit too close to the screen, not the most ideal position, especially if you are doing it for long hours. Gaming accessories are strongly recommended. In terms of design this has no precedent, at least from ASUS?s line-up of portables or desktops. Where one would usually find the touchpad, in the NX90 it turns out to be a sleek, 4-inch aluminium strip running from one end to another. ASUS has instead endowed the laptop with twin touchpads on either side of the keyboard.

Finger-friendly

The chiclet keys are meant to remind you of controls on a few of Bang and Olufsen?s older audio products. With so much keyboard space available, we thought a dedicated set of number keys would have been a better addition.

The keys are neatly arranged and are easy to type on. The only niggle here is the fact that we often ended up accidentally brushing against the touchpad on either side while typing. This, however, could be resolved to some extent by disabling one of the touchpad?s that you tend to use less frequently. Also, being used to typing on other laptop keyboards, in the NX90, ever so often the hand wanders to the space below the keyboard to where the touchpad is usually located.

Power and connectivity

Apart from the looks, the ASUS NX90 has enough power in it to beat a couple of the portables in the market hollow. The processor is the latest Intel Core i7-740QM processor and the graphics is smoothly handled by a high-end GT335 NVIDIA chip. The machine has 8GB RAM and a whopping 1 Terabyte hard drive, which would give you enough space to store all your movies, games, music and more. Most of the connectivity ports are on the right-underside of the laptop. These include two USB 3.0 slots, an HDMI port, an eSATA port, a VGA port and three audio jacks, apart from the power connector. Apart from the single USB 2.0 port on the left, ASUS has built in a Blu-Ray 4X combo drive in the system. The unit we reviewed had a 6-cell battery and battery life is definitely not a strongpoint of the NX90. On a full charge, it gave us just about 140 minutes of video playback.

Our verdict

The term ?portable? can?t really be applied to the ASUS NX90 owing to its huge dimensions and a weight of little more than 4 kgs. But the real deal is that with the kind of raw power and amazing entertainment capabilities it comes with, the NX90 makes for an excellent desktop replacement. But, all that packaging comes for a steep price.

Rs 1,31,999

Love ? Amazing sound, sleek looks, desktop-like performance

Hate ? Not very portable, low battery life

Technical Specifications

Display: 18.4-inch, 1920?1080, LED

Processor: Intel Core i7-740QM, 1.73 GHz, 6MB Cache, 2.93GHz Turbo, HT, 45W TDP

Chipset: Intel HM55

RAM: 1 x 4GB, 2 x 2GB DDR3, 1333 MHz

Video card: Nvidia GeForce GT 335M, 1GB DDR3

HDD: 2 x 640GB, 5400 RPM, 8MB buffer

Optical Drive: Blu-ray Combo

Network: LAN, 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth

Connectors: 1 x USB 2.0, 2 x USB 3.0, eSATAp, HDMI, VGA, 3 x audio

Others: card reader, web camera, hybrid TV Tuner

Battery: 6 cells, 5.600 mAh, 63 Wh

Dimensions: 530 x 280 x 30-35 mm

Weight: 4.4 kg

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Published on January 26, 2011
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