Keyboard and Touchpad
ASUS uses the same keyboard on the U41JF that it uses on most of its 13.3” and 14” notebooks. The full-size Chiclet/island-style keyboard has flat keys with more-than-usual spacing between them. It may take some adjustment coming from a standard notebook keyboard; I was able to type quickly and accurately after a few hours of use despite the issues. Ah yes – let’s talk about the issues.
Though the keys provide adequate feedback, the U41JF’s keyboard suffers from a lot of flex. Just using normal typing pressure causes the keyboard to cave downward around the key that was pressed which does not instill a sense of confidence. Compounding the flex issue is the rattling; even using light typing pressure attracts annoying rattles from the right side of the keyboard. This is a quality issue and not the first time I have seen it on an ASUS notebook. One last note about the keyboard is that it is loud, partly because of the rattling; there is no masking it. All of these problems ruin the typing experience.
The U41JF has a full-size touchpad which unfortunately suffers from some debilitating usage issues. Only about 60% of my intended left-clicks registered, which was frustrating. I also had problems tracking; it was either too sensitive (causing me to unintentionally click) or not sensitive enough (missing finger strokes). The touchpad surface was pleasant, however; smooth and easy to track on. With some extensive tweaking the touchpad could probably become more usable; left at default settings, which most users will never change, it is clumsy at best.
Screen and Speakers
The U41JF has a 14-inch display with a 720p (1366 x 768) resolution, 16:9 aspect ratio, and LED backlighting. Its glossy surface helps contrast but reflects like a mirror, sometimes making it tough to see if there are overhead lighting sources. The glossy surface is also difficult to keep clean.
The display has ample brightness at default settings; contrast is adequate but could use a boost. Pressing [FN] + [C] switches between built-in color profiles. I prefer the Gamma Correction mode; it fixes the display’s naturally bluish hue by making the colors warmer.
Viewing angles are relatively narrow. There is significant color inversion after 30 degrees off-center on either side horizontally and 15 degrees off-center vertically. This could be a problem if two or more people want to watch a movie or view pictures on the screen at a time.
The 1366 x 768 screen resolution is low for a 14-inch screen; lots of scrolling is required while surfing the Internet or editing documents because there are simply not enough pixels to display information. To be fair, just about every consumer notebook on the market less than 17 inches is sold with this resolution. 1600 x 900 is the next resolution up and would be a nice improvement.
The U41JF has two speakers located below the palm rest. The speakers sound tinny and have no perceptible bass despite the Altec Lansing badge, making them no different than typical notebook speakers. The static-free headphone jack and the HDMI port are the best ways to get audio out of this notebook.