ASUS' K-series notebooks promise a blend of value and performance. The K40IN is a 14-inch notebook with Nvidia graphics and an $800 price tag. How did it hold up in our testing?
Our ASUS K40IN-B1 review unit has the following specifications:
Build and Design
The K40IN has a traditional notebook design and shape; it looks like an ordinary notebook and is visually uninspiring. Corners are rounded off to give the notebook a soft look. Nearly all surfaces of the K40IN save for the keyboard are glossy plastic, which is a dual-edged blade. On one hand the glossiness makes the notebook look more attractive, but on the other hand it reduces durability and makes it a real chore to keep clean.
The physical build quality of the K40IN is satisfactory. The quality is consistent; no particular area seems to be stronger or weaker than another. The base of the notebook resists twisting well and the palm rests barely flex under pressure. This lid is one of the better-reinforced lids I have seen on a value-oriented notebook; it is resistant to flexing and pushing in on the back of the lid does not yield any ripples on the screen. The hinges anchoring it to the base of the notebook are strong and display wobble is minimal.
Overall the build quality meets expectations; it is not outstanding and matches up to the competition at the very least. The design is rather plain though not unattractive. However, the glossy plastic will be a turn-off for some.
Screen and Speakers
The K40IN has a 14-inch diagonal display with LED backlighting and a 16:9 aspect ratio. The overall quality of the display is 'very good'. Brightness is excellent and contrast is reasonable. Pictures and movies are a pleasure to view on this display. The viewing angles are above average; side-to-side are nearly flawless, and while the colors wash out and darken from above and below respectively, the picture is fine for about thirty degrees vertically off center. The backlighting is not even with a significant amount of bleed at the bottom; fortunately it is not noticeable during normal use.
The display's 1366x768 resolution is a standard resolution for mainstream notebooks. The horizontal resolution is adequate, however only 768 pixels of vertical space means a good deal of scrolling while surfing the Internet and only enough space to view about one-half of a page in a Microsoft Word.
The K40IN has Altec Lansing speakers located underneath the palm rest. Simply put, the K40IN has two of the worst speakers I have heard on a notebook; my ears cringe every time a sound gets played. The speakers are muddy, tinny, and too quiet. Using the included SRS WOW software enhancer distorts the sound and put this odd pressure on my eardrums that I cannot stand. The headphone jack is fortunately static-free and the best way to get audio signals out of the notebook.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The K40IN's full-size keyboard is responsive and pleasing to use. The keys are large and flat and have a matte texture, which may wear over time. There is no noticeable flex unless a lot of pressure is used. A nice aspect of this keyboard is its quietness; it does not click or clack. It is also good to see the keyboard has a standard layout; all keys are more or less in their expected places.
The touchpad is a mixed bag. The glossy surface can be difficult to track on with moist fingers and the touchpad buttons are loud. Another complaint is the lack of a dedicated scroll zone.
The status lights on the K40 consist of three tiny circles below the touchpad buttons. From a functionality standpoint, they should be larger and brighter for better visibility.
Ports and Features
The K40IN suffers from a lack of ports relative to its competitors. HDMI is noticeably absent; the notebook's only video out option is VGA. Furthermore, there is no ExpressCard or PC Card slot for wireless broadband cards and other add-on devices. All picture descriptions are left to right.
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