by Donovan Christoffer
The Asus G2S-A1 is classified as a "desktop replacement" laptop due to the size of the screen, which measures 17.1 inches, and its weight which comes in at 9.6 pounds. I opted to add one gigabyte of RAM, for a total of three, as my only configuration change from stock. The following specs are taken from the GenTech Computers website, which is where I purchased this machine:
Reasons for Buying
This is my first laptop. I decided to purchase the G2S-A1 because I don't think I will be moving it around all that much. Once I narrowed my choices down to one brand, I had to choose between the 15.4 inch G1S-A1 or the 17.1 inch G2S-A1. I do tend to travel about once a month, but plan to leave the laptop in place once I reach my destination. While at home I move about from place to place in the house thanks to the wireless networking, but tend to set up camp in one area for a few hours to most of the day. I also like to play games both at home and away, so I opted for the larger screen and higher resolution of the G2S-A1.
Since receiving the laptop, I have made one trip with it. The trip lasted about a week, and I took the laptop with me to several different locations. While the whole package of laptop, charger along with a bunch of stuff I brought along such as blank CD's, a few DVD's, cell phone charger, headphones, etc, was a bit on the heavy side, the included backpack was able to handle it all along with room for plenty more. The backpack was surprisingly well made. I expected a cheap, flimsy piece of junk, and I was pleasantly surprised to find a very heavy-duty and functional carrier for the G2S-A1.
During my research of different brands and models of laptops I also considered the Dell XPS 1710 and the HP DV9000. The Dell ended up being more than $1,000 more expensive than the Asus after I confugured it to my liking, and the HP was several hundred dollars more after configuration. The Asus G2S-A1 represented the best bang for the buck in my opinion, and it came highly recommended by several people in the "What Laptop Should I Buy?" forum on this website.
While the size of the G2S-A1 is similar to the HP DV9000, the HP tends to weigh a little less than the Asus. While you might think of this as an advantage for the HP, the DV9000 did not feel as solidly built as the Asus. I would pick the G2S any day over the DV9000 based on this alone. I wouldn't say that the HP felt flimsy, but its definitely not as solid as the G2S.
I also opted for the newer model G2S as opposed to the G2P in order to get the newly released Santa Rosa chipset.
Where and How Purchased
I purchased the Asus G2S-A1 from GenTech Computers. The price after configuration came to $2,260.50, UPS Ground shipping included. I configured the G2S with an extra GB of RAM for 3GB total and I also added a third year of warranty for $129, which seems to be the standard price across most Asus resellers. The base price of the laptop is $1,995, which is also within $50 plus/minus several other websites. I chose GenTech because I read many favorable reviews about them, and I was not to be disappointed.
I placed my order and was called back within a couple of hours to confirm the order and shipping information. I had requested that Ken Lee process my order as I heard good things about the service he provides and his knowledge of GenTech's products. Once again, I was not disappointed. Ken answered all of my questions and explained the different features of the laptop in great detail. I think he would have stayed on the phone for an hour answering my questions if that is what it took to satisfy my curiosity. Ken was calm and did not seem one bit rushed to end the phone call.
The G2S-A1 box (including evil eye) and gaming backpack. (view large image)
Another view of the included backpack. (view large image)
The included gaming mouse and accessories. (view large image)
Build and Design
The laptop seems to be put together very well. Being a larger screen model it is a little on the heavy side, but it feels solid, not just like dead weight. Pressing on the outside of the lid does not have an effect on the screen. Giving the screen a slight twist will distort the screen a little, but again, the screen feels solid and well constructed. It will bounce back and forth a small amount while sitting on your lap in a vehicle, but the hinges hold it tight in position. When you apply enough pressure to the hinges, the screen will fold down in a smooth motion. There isn't any sticking to be found, just glass-smooth motion.
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The LCD picture quality is amazing, absolutely gorgeous, and I did not notice any dead or stuck pixels at first power-up or while using it. You should see the HP DV9000 owners drool over the picture on this machine. I have had three of them compliment me on the picture quality alone.
(view large image)
The screen measures 17.1 inches on the diagonal. The resolution is WUXGA (1920x1200). The Asus G2S-A1 comes with a glossy screen, there is no option for a matte screen. I have an LCD monitor for my desktop at home with an acrylic screen protector, so I am used to the glossy look. It takes a bit of practice to look through the occasional reflections, but once you master the skill, you don't even notice them any longer. The screen is very bright with excellent color reproduction. The brightness alone all but eliminates the glare and reflection issue.
I am a serious digital photography enthusiast and I am looking forward to viewing and processing photos on this screen. There was a very small amount of light leakage at the bottom of the screen and this has been reported by other people. The only place I could see the leak was on a totally black screen during start up. This isn't like a crack with bright, shiny light coming through, its just a lighter area of the black screen along the bottom edge. It is not visible during normal use and is no cause to not choose this laptop in my opinion.
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I will put on my wish list that a brushed aluminum cover be included. The outside cover is made up to look like brushed aluminum, and the palm-rest is actual aluminum (very nice, by the way). Asus, are you listening (hint, hint)? Just a nice to have, not a necessity.
The speakers on this machine left something to be desired. The sound quality was average, but the volume just wasn't up to par with the beauty and performance of the rest of the G2S-A1. The speakers are adequate, I just expected something a bit more brilliant when looking at the whole package. It is not an issue that would have stopped me from buying the laptop. The sound volume is pretty acceptable during normal usage. The area I felt that the speakers were too quiet in was watching movies via Media Center. This may be an issue with the way I have Media Center set up, I haven't had time to go through the settings. The problem was that it just seemed like you couldn't turn the volume up high enough.
Processor and Performance
This machine is a big leap forward for me. I have been babying an old desktop along for several years now. Add a little RAM here or there and it performs pretty well. This laptop compared to my old desktop is like comparing a Mustang to a Geo Metro. The laptop runs circles around my desktop when opening a program such as Microsoft Word. I am very satisfied with the performance and speed of the laptop. The G2S-A1 comes with the 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Processor T7500. The performance is fast with no hang-ups or other problems so far. Performance is smooth and stable. One area that I noticed a definite improvement from my desktop was in opening, switching between, and closing applications. All these operations were lightning fast and did not make the screen jump and flinch like they did on my old desktop as it searched for RAM and swapped page-file space, etc. Rock-solid performance on the laptop!
3DMark06 Results and Comparison:
|Notebook||3D Mark 06 Results|
|Asus G2S-A1 (2.2GHz Core 2 Duo T7500, nVidia GeForce 8600M GT 256MB)||3,814|
|Sager NP9260 (2.66GHz Core 2 Duo E6700, 2x Nvidia GeForce Go 7950GTX video cards with 512MB DDR3)||9,097|
|Alienware m5790 (1.83 GHz Core 2 Duo, ATI X1800 256MB)||2,625|
|WidowPC Sting D517D (Core 2 Duo 2.33GHz, Nvidia 7900GTX 512MB)||4,833|
|Apple MacBook Pro (2.00GHz Core Duo, ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 128MB)||1,528|
|Alienware Area 51 m5550 (2.33GHz Core 2 Duo, nVidia GeForce Go 7600 256MB)||2,183|
|ASUS A8Ja (1.66GHz Core Duo, ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 512MB)||1,973|
|Dell XPS M1710 (2.16GHz Core Duo, nVidia GeForce Go 7900 GTX 512MB)||4,744|
|Toshiba Satellite P100-222 (2.16GHz Core Duo, nVidia GeForce Go 7900 GS 512MB)||3,534|
Heat and Noise
I have not owned any other laptops, but I have used others in the past. Most of these were several years ago, so my experience with them really doesn't present a fair comparison to this newer laptop. The older machines were large and heavy and very noisey and HOT! The G2S is a very nice machine compared to these relics. The G2S is nearly silent. The only time you know it is on is when you are running a CD/DVD. The heat generated by the laptop does not seem to be excessive, in fact it generates less heat than I expected. It does generate some heat, but it doesn't make me uncomfortable or want to put the laptop down.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard seems to be nicely laid out and the pressure required to press the keys seems about right. I did not notice any flex in my keyboard. The press of the keys really resembles that of a full size keyboard. Not quite as much travel, but the pressure required is very similar. The mouse keys are also quite sturdy. I like the feel of the touchpad. It is neither glass-smooth, nor is it really rough. It's a nice compromise between the two, and your finger glides across it very nicely.
Input and Output Ports
There are plenty on input/output ports on the G2S-A1. I will echo other reviews in that all of the USB ports except one are located on the rear of the laptop. While this is a minor inconvenience, it is not something that would stop me from buying the laptop. However, one must remember to be careful if you attach a USB thumbdrive or some other device to one of these ports on the back of the laptop. It would be easy to forget such a device was plugged into the back, out of sight, and snap it off. The complete list of ports includes:
The back view of the G2S-A1 with lock slot, S-video out, VGA out, HDMI, and four USB 2.0 ports. (view large image)
The left side view of the notebook with modem and Ethernet ports, USB port, microphone and headphone ports, SPDIF output jack,firewire, ExpressCard, multi-card reader, and wireless on/off. (view large image)
The front side view with media control buttons and eSATA port. (view large image)
The right side with Lightscribe DVD drive and power jack. (view large image)
The bottom view with vents, memory expansion access, and battery. (view large image)
Battery life on the G2S-A1 has been reported to be anywhere from around 90 minutes to 2 hours. In my own experience, after letting the laptop fully charge, I was able to achieve 90 to 100 minutes depending on my configuration (wireless, bluetooth, etc). When the wireless and bluetooth are turned off and the screen brightness is turned down, I can squeaze about 150 minutes out of the battery. I do feel that the screen could be turned down even more than the software will allow you to. There are certain situations, such as total darkness where even the minimum brightness is more than adequate, so turning it down even further would only conserve more battery power. A higher capacity battery would be nice given this machine wasn't designed to be ultra-portable.
Operating System and Software
This is my first experience with Windows Vista. I am a bit apprehensive about this operating system because I have heard some bad experiences with it. To be fair, I have also heard some good reviews, time will tell. I am very familiar with Windows XP. I was also leary of upgrading to XP when it first came out, but I have grown quite fond of it over the years. I hope Vista can live up to my experiences with XP.
My main annoyance in this area is a general one with any pre-built machine. The G2S, just like any other pre-loaded machine comes with only a restore disk as opposed to an OEM, OS-only disk. The software load on the G2S is decent, and there aren't a ton of bloatware applications like some well-known mass production machines. It is just a personal preference of mine to start from a clean OS install and load device drivers and applications myself. Call me a control freak if you must, I just feel safer knowing exactly what is loaded on my system.
The Asus G2S-A1 comes with a few pieces of quite useful software. Included are an antivirus program, Adobe Acrobat Reader, and Nero Express. The anti-virus was a trial version and was quickly uninstalled and replaced with a fully licensed version. Acrobat and Nero are must-haves and will remain installed.
I am extremely happy with my purchase of the Asus G2S-A1. I feel that this laptop will provide me with many years of service and enjoyment. GenTech Computers was more than helpful in the purchase process and I would highly recommend them to anyone. Be sure to ask for Ken Lee when you call them or place your order online. All in all this is an awesome laptop with great performance and a solid build. There isn't much I would change about the machine, other than moving a couple more USB ports to the side of the laptop. otherwise, I feel that I have definitely gotten my money's worth with this purchase.
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