by Kevin O'Brien
The ASUS F50SV-A2 is a midrange gaming notebook that offers an Intel P8600 Core 2 Duo Processor and a NVIDIA GeForce GT 120M 1GB graphics card in a 16” shell. The notebook also offers a built-in Blu-ray drive for watching movies on the 16:9 display or outputting them through HDMI to your home entertainment system. Priced at $1,149 ASUS has this F50 competing against the HP dv6t, Gateway MC series, and Dell Studio XPS 16. Is the ASUS F50 worth checking out? Read our full review to find out.
ASUS F50SV-A2 Specifications:
Build and Design
The ASUS F50 has a slick design that looks clean and very modern. In a way you could easily compare it to the look HP uses in their notebooks having most of the surfaces color-matched and glossy. The palmrest and touchpad surface share the same design, with the pattern flowing seamlessly through both surfaces. Above, the keyboard keys are matte black with glossy black trim bordering the keyboard. The F50 lacks touch-sensitive multimedia keys, instead having only quick access buttons for Instant-On, power switching mode, Web browser, touchpad disable, and power.
Build quality is above average with solid plastic used throughout the notebook, which helps reduce flex and protect components. The screen cover gives adequate protection against impacts and the display shows no ripples when you press firmly on the back cover. The palmrest has good support and only flexes under strong pressure from your hands. Under normal activity it feels rock solid. The keyboard is the same, with minimal flex under heated typing.
ASUS gives quick access to user-serviceable components through two access panels on the back of the notebook. One bay houses only the hard drive, while the other has the processor, memory, and wireless card. No “warranty void if removed” stickers were present on the covers, but one was stuck to one of the processor heatsink screws.
The 16” display is above average in terms of viewing quality, but I really wish ASUS could have included a higher resolution panel. When manufacturers stick with lower resolutions on larger panels pixels become more apparent and screen real estate seems wasted. The panel is a Samsung model, with the part number being 160At01-A05. Overall the panel looks good with good color saturation and contrast levels thanks in part to the glossy surface.
Screen brightness is fine for viewing in a bright office environment ... even at lower brightness settings. Outdoor viewing is limited by glare off the glossy surface, but it might be usable if you found a big tree to sit under with lots of shade. Vertical viewing angles are normal, having a narrow viewing sweet spot before color starts to wash out or invert. On the F50SV you have about 10 degrees forward or back before you start to see colors changing. Horizontal viewing angles are much better, staying true even to very steep angles.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard on the F50 is full-size with numberpad, using all of the space provided by the wide 16” chassis. It is comfortable to type on, but the key shape might take a bit to get used to. Individual key action is smooth with a light audible click when pressed. Most keys are shaped with a cupped surface on top and wide sloped edges. The F50 is designed with more of a flat top and narrow sloped edges. If you are used to sliding your fingers across the keyboard to other keys, you will catch your fingertip on the edge of each key. After typing for a couple of hours you get used to it, but it does feel weird if you aren’t expecting it. One odd feature of the F50’s keyboard is a rather large right-side control key, which is wider than the shift key on that side, coming in at 33mm wide.
ASUS includes a large Synaptics-based touchpad on the F50 which is comfortable to use and quick to respond to finger movements. The texture of the touchpad surface is matte and was easy to slide your fingertip across even when moist. The touchpad surface is recessed from the palmrest, and defined by a smooth ridge, making it hard accidentally slip off the surface. The touchpad buttons are operated through a seesaw-style button which requires a solid press to activate each side. It has a shallow throw with minimal feedback.
Ports and Features
Port selection on the F50 is adequate, but the layout seems awkward for a notebook of this size. No ports are located on the right side, reserved only for the optical drive. three USB ports are on the left side and one additional port on the back. No eSATA port is included, limiting fast external storage, which is odd considering many new notebooks include them. The remaining ports include LAN, VGA, HDMI, and audio jacks for headphones and a microphone.
Included with the purchase of the notebook are a wired USB optical mouse and carrying case. The mouse is average, but works great in a pinch when gaming. The carrying case provides some mild protection for the notebook against drops, but more importantly it keeps the new finish free from scratches right out of the box. If you plan on buying a new case anyway, it can be a temporary case to protect the F50 in the meantime.
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