Asus A6Jc Review

by germancasaretto Reads (63,039)

by German Casaretto, Argentina

Introduction

The Asus A6Jc is a 15.4” dual core processor entertainment notebook. The A6Jc features nVidia dedicated graphics and a glossy screen and so fits both the multimedia enthusiast and the light gamer thereby becoming a very versatile desktop replacement.

Reasons for buying

I needed a replacement for my old Sempron based desktop PC, so I thought about entering the notebook world. Although I’m not a heavy gamer, I wanted dedicated graphics to be able to play some older games like Warcraft 3 or NFS-Underground without taking RAM from my system or worrying about low resolutions or visual effects.

I had a few things in mind when I started looking for a new laptop; I wanted an Intel Dual Core processor, a 15,4” glossy widescreen, a DVD writer and dedicated graphics. This may sound like everyday shopping, but as I live in Argentina, I didn’t have too many options fitting these specs to choose from.

After lots of research, phone calls and emails, my decision was between Dell’s Inspiron E1505 / 6400, and the Asus A6Jc.  I could have chosen some HP, Sony or LG notebooks which are also available here, but their price range was beyond the budget I allocated (mainly due to costs from customs issues).


Asus A6Jc top view (view large image)

So it was the A6Jc vs. Inspiron E1505. Reading some articles in the forums I found that Dell’s build quality wasn’t top notch, at least in their home / small office notebooks. I was also a bit afraid about reports of light leakage in the Dell Inspiron series.

Eventually I was able to go to an Asus reseller and see the A6Jc in person. It looked very neat and sturdy. Maybe too neat for someone looking for an eye-candy laptop; but that wasn’t my case.

Where and How Purchased

I bought the A6Jc at an official Asus reseller in Argentina at the price of US $1,530 including taxes. That’s about US $1,385 without taxes.  This is actually a very good price for Argentina, as an equivalent HP, Sony or Toshiba would cost as much as US $2,500.  I didn’t have any shipment costs I bought it in person.


Included accessories with the A6Jc (view large image)


Included bag (view large image)

Build & Design

I really like the A6Jc’s design. The body is painted with dark silver paint and the lid and back are painted black. The design is very sober. The Asus logo is placed both on the lower right part outside of the lid; and also in the lower right inside of the lid near the right hinge.


Asus A6Jc (view large image)

What really stands out in this laptop is its build quality. It has two big hinges which are integrated with the screen and feel very firm. I can lift the notebook from the lid without much trouble and it won’t crack.

The lid closes with two plastic latches making it impossible to open it with only one hand. Although it would be easier if it had only one in the middle, the extra latch ensures that the lid won’t wobble at all when closed.


Underside view of the Asus A6Jc (view large image)

One last thing about A6jc is its weight; 2.80 kg (6.17 pounds). I haven’t tried any laptop before this one so I don’t have anything to compare it with; however, I think it’s a bit heavy to carry around.

Screen

The only option available when I bought this notebook regarding the screen was a WXGA 1200×800 glossy screen.

At first I was a bit afraid because I thought I’d prefer WSXGA, but the truth is that this screen looks just great.  The colors are very bright and everything looks much better and sharper that on my old CRT display.

In regards to resolution, I think that’s more a personal decision. I feel very comfortable with 1200×800, as I think a higher resolution would make text too small. However, other people could prefer the higher WSXGA resolution, as you gain some sharpness and can fit more on the screen.

With it being a glare-type display, it’s nearly impossible to work with the laptop outside in sunlight. So if you’re planning to take your notebook outdoors, I think you should go with a non-glare screen.

The viewing angles are alright. They’re not as wide as in some displays, but way better than a matte screen.

I couldn’t find any dead pixels on this display, but what I did see was some light leakage. Not a big issue, as I only saw it when turning off every light in the room and turning the screen completely black. Under normal usage, you won’t notice it.

On the top of the screen there is a 1.3 mega pixel camera with microphone included, perfect for video chat or taking a snapshot of your own mug.

Speakers

The speakers are located on the lower front part of the notebook, pointed somewhat down. I don’t think it’s the best place to have them as if you are working on your bed or on your lap, they can get easily covered causing some sound loss.

The sound is quite crisp, but not as loud as I’d like. Although using Realtek HD Sound Effect Manager presets you can gain a bit of ‘sound power’.  When playing music with lots of bass it isn’t very good.

Overall though, the sound is decent. Not as good as the sound you get from some HP-Compaq laptops with Altec Lansing speakers, but okay as far as notebooks go.

If you use a 2.1 speaker system attached to the headphone jack, or a 5.1 system using S/PDIF interface instead of the speakers provided, you’ll be able to play games or watch movies with incredible surround sound.

Processor and Performance

With 1 GB RAM in dual-channel and an Intel Core Duo T2300, I must say performance is just great. Rendering video, playing music with Winamp and surfing the net wirelessly with multiple browsers, all at the same time, didn’t result in any hangs or slowing of tasks.

What becomes a bottleneck is the hard drive, spinning at a standard 5400 rpm. Also the fact of being an IDE (or PATA) drive makes it a bit slower. Unfortunately, SATA drives weren’t available with this model.

The video card is nVidia’s low end GeForce go7300. It’s not a gaming card, but it will run older games at full details without any issues. Warcraft 3 or Need for Speed Underground 2 will work just fine.

Although the Vista Capable sticker is absent in this notebook, it has enough power to run Vista’s 32 bit edition or 64 bit edition with a processor upgrade.

Benchmarks

SuperPi

SuperPi measures CPU performance by calculating Pi to a specific number of digits.

Notebook Time to Calculate Pi to 2 Million Digits
Asus A6Jc (1.66GHz Intel T2300) 1m 21s
HP dv6000z (1.8GHz Turion64 X2 TL-56) 1m 54s
Compaq V3000T(1.6GHz Core Duo) 1m 26s
Dell Inspiron e1505 (2.00 GHz Core 2 Duo) 1m 02s
Toshiba A100(2.0GHz Core Duo) 1m 18s
Acer Aspire 5102WLMi(1.6GHz Turion64 X2 TL-50 2m 22s
Gateway E-100M(1.2GHz Core Solo ULV) 2m 02s
Dell Inspiron 600m (1.6 GHz Dothan Pentium M) 2m 10s
HP dv5000z(2.0GHz Sempron 3300+) 2m 02s

 

PCMark05

Another synthetic benchmark we use is Futuremark’s PCMark 05. This is a good general  measure of system performance. The A6Jc achieved a score of 3,170.

 Notebook PCMark05 Score
Asus A6Jc (1.66GHz Intel T2300, Nvidia Go 7300) 3,170 PCMarks
Fujitsu N6410 (1.66GHz Core Duo) 3,487 PCMarks
Alienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60) 5,597 PCMarks
Sony Vaio SZ-110B in Speed Mode (Using Nvidia GeForce Go 7400) 3,637 PCMarks
Panasonic ToughBook T4 (Intel 1.20GHz LV) 1,390 PCMarks
Asus V6J (1.86GHz Core Duo T2400) 3,646 PCMarks
Sony VAIO FE590 (1.83GHz Core Duo) 3,427 PCMarks


(view large image)

 

3DMark05:

Notebook 3D Mark 05 Results
Asus A6Jc (1.66GHz Core Duo, Nvidia Go 7300) 1,446 3D Marks
Dell Inspiron e1705 (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400) 1,791 3D Marks
Acer TravelMate 8204WLMi (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 256MB) 4,236 3DMarks
Alienware Aurora M-7700(AMD Dual Core FX-60, ATI X1600 256MB) 7,078 3D Marks
Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400 128MB) 2,092 3D Marks
Asus V6Va (2.13 GHz Pentium M, ATI x700 128 MB) 2,530 3D Marks
Fujitsu n6410 (1.66 GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400 128MB) 2,273 3DMarks
HP Pavilion dv4000 (1.86 GHz Pentium M, ATI X700 128MB) 2,536 3D Marks
Dell XPS M1210 (2.16 GHz Core Duo, nVidia Go 7400 256MB) 2,090 3D Marks


(view large image)

 

RightMark CPU Clock Utilty


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HDTune hard drive benchmark results:


(view large image)

 

Everest Benchmark report

 

Heat and Noise

When running on batteries the notebook keeps quite cool, so you can have it on your lap and work just fine.

If you connect it to AC power and leave it running for a couple of hours you’ll notice some heat, both on the right palm rest and on the right side of the keyboard. Not big deal, but there is some heat. Also the back part of the notebook, towards the lid, becomes warm when running applications that require intensive processing.

It is possible to use the notebook on your lap when plugged into AC power, but after 30 or 40 minutes it will start to get warm and become uncomfortable.

Noise isn’t something you notice when working on this laptop. You can hear the hard drive spinning if there isn’t any other noise in the room, but it’s not something you would hear under normal conditions.

What gets a bit noisy is the DVD recorder, but I don’t think this can be avoided on any laptop.

Keyboard and Touchpad


Keyboard view of the A6Jc (view large image)

The keyboard feels very good. It has no flex on the sides and the keys have a normal size.

There’s an issue with the spacebar; it doesn’t work if you press on the right edge. This is a bit annoying, as I’m used to pressing it on the right end with my right thumb.

Another small issue with the keyboard is the key placement. Left Function and Control keys should be switched. I’d rather have the Control key on the outside, as it is in a standard keyboard.

The touchpad looks very neat, with a vertical scroll bar on the right and two big buttons below. These are a bit hard to press, which I think could be improved.

There are many functions that can be accessed by pressing a combination of keys; system stand-by, turning wireless on and off, increase and decrease brightness, turn on and off the LCD panel, and increase/decrease/mute the volume.

In my opinion, a wireless on/off key should be a separate button or switch; and volume keys should be on the front, making them available when listening to music with the lid closed.

You’ll also find five long silver buttons on the right, above the keyboard. They can be used to set the power configuration (using Asus Power4 Gear software), access your mail client, launch your Internet browser, disable touch pad and power button.


Some buttons on the A6Jc (view large image)

These buttons are, as well as the touchpad buttons, a bit hard to press.

On the front side of the laptop there is another group of five buttons, this time used to play music CDs. They can be accessed even when the lid is closed, and they control an application that’ll play your cds without booting your OS.

Input and Output Ports


The left side of the notebook just has the optical drive (view large image)

Ports included in A6Jc are as follows:

Right side:

  • 4 in 1 card reader (SD/MMC/MS/MS PRO).
  • Type II PCMCIA 2.1 compliant.
  • IEEE 1394 port.
  • Headphone-out jack
  • Microphone-in jack
  • Line-in Jack
  • TV Out (S-Video)
  • RJ45 LAN Jack.
  • RJ11 modem jack.

Back side:

  • 4 USB 2.0 ports.
  • DVI port.
  • VGA port.
  • AC power connector.
  • Kensington lock hole

Many of the ports are located on the back side, all USB ports are there (view large image)

One of the cons about this laptop is the USB ports placement; they are all together in the right back side. Although they are well separated, if you plug in a big pen drive or MP3 player (like the Sony Bean I own), you won’t be able to plug anything else into the other ports, as the big one will interfere and be in the way.

Wireless.

Intel Pro/Wireless 3945 ABG is included in this laptop and works very well. Using an updated driver I can get very good signals from many devices.

This model doesn’t come with Bluetooth or an IR port, two things I would have liked.

Battery.

The battery life is very good. Using Asus Power4 Gear software you can get up to four and a half hours running at 50% CPU performance and wireless on.  Fifty percent is quite enough processor power for everyday office tasks.

While running in a more demanding environment, you can get 10% of the battery consumed in only 10 minutes. While playing Need for Speed Underground with every visual and sound effect enabled, battery life only lasted for an hour and a half.

Having wireless turned on does not reduce battery life too much; maybe 5 minutes less per hour.

Operating System and Software.

This notebook didn’t come with any OS installed; that will differ by retailer though.

What did come was a package with 5 cds containing:

  • Asus DVD software.
  • A6 Notebook Series Driver & Utility Multi-Language CD (including Asus utilities as Power4 Gear and Winflash to flash BIOS).
  • Nero OEM Suite
  • Asus Medi@ Show SE 2.0 (to create multidimensional slide shows)
  • Asus Power Director DE (Video editing package for creating professional home movies)

Customer Support.

Fortunately, I haven’t had to call customer support yet, so it’ll be a pending issue.

Conclusion.

This is definitely a notebook I’d recommend. It has enough power to run almost every application and it has very good build quality and a nice screen. The inclusion of a built-in camera and special buttons to play music or DVDs without booting up makes it a very good buy for the multimedia user.

Being considerably heavier than a 14.1” system may bother some users looking for a more portable notebook.

Pros:

  • Batterylife
  • 1.3 mega pixel digital camera with microphone on screen frame
  • Dedicated graphics
  • 4 in 1 card reader
  • DVI port
  • Bright and crisp display
  • Audio ports distribution on the right side
  • DVI port
  • S/PDIF

Cons:

  • Gets hot when plugged in and with the lid closed
  • Lacks IR port and BlueTooth
  • USB ports distribution
  • Speakers’ volume
  • No SATA Hard Disk


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