by Andrew Baxter, New York
Asus V6800V (view larger image)
The Asus V6800V review unit provided by PROPortable.com has the following specs:
Asus V6800V Specs as Delivered
- Intel Pentium M 750 (1.86GHz, 2MB L2 Cache, 533MHz FSB)
- 15.1″ SXGA with Crystal Shine (high brightness) (1400 x 1050) display
- 60GB, 5400RPM Hard Drive
- 512MB DDR2 400MHz RAM (max 2GB)
- DVD Dual Drive (DVD + – R/RW)
- Ports: 4 USB 2.0, 1 PCMCIA card slot, 56K Modem, Ethernet LAN port, FireWire (IEEE 1394), Infrared, SPDIF, VGA port/Mini D-sub for external monitor, headphone jack, microphone in jack
Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2
- ATI X600 Graphics Card with 64MB RAM
- Media Card Reader (SD/MMC/MS/MS PRO)
- Wireless: 802.11 a/b/g wireless card built-in, Bluetooth built-in, Infrared
- Dimensions: 13 x 10.7 x 1.18 inces (W x D x H)
- Weight: 5.49 lbs (w/battery)
- Supplied Accessories: Optical mouse, carrying bag
- Operating System: Windows XP Pro
- Price: $2,199
Asus is one of those companies that you may never have heard of, but if you use computers then there’s a good chance you’ve purchased something with either a component inside that they made, such as a computer motherboard, or it’s possible that the entire laptop computer you purchased was made by Asus — even if it is a brand such as Apple. You see, Asus is what’s called an Original Design Manufacturer (ODM). An ODM will design and manufacture a notebook, and then that notebook is branded by another company such as Dell, Sony or Apple and those companies sell and support the notebook. So Asus, a Taiwanese based company, has been designing and manufacturing notebooks for years, but have only recently started selling notebooks under their own brand label. After making notebooks for other computer companies Asus figured they had learned enough about marketing and support of notebooks to make a go of it themselves. So far they’re doing pretty well and have developed a veritable fan base of people who are huge fans of the Asus brand. There certainly are good reasons to be a fan of Asus and the V6V notebook in particular.
Asus V6V Design and Build
The Asus V6V is marketed as a thin and light notebook. At 5.49 lbs it certainly fits the weight category of a thin-and-light. At 1.18-inches thick, it’s certainly respectably thin too, although I like to think of 1-inch of thickness as the holy grail for something to be called truly thin, that’d be a tough thickness to cram all the goodness you get with the V6V into. So while the V6V is a little thicker than my 14.0″ screen IBM ThinkPad (about 1-inch thick), it’s more powerful and has a larger 15.1″ screen.
Overall the look of the V6V is very nice. It’s presentation is very simple and yet futuristic looking at the same time. The color of the case is best described as a dark aluminum color, which gives it a very cool look. The notebook is actually quite eye-catching whether it’s open or closed.
The V6V uses small blue LED lights to indicate various states
If you’re a fan of LED lights as indicators on your notebook, you’ll like the little blue light indicators on the V6V. There are 5 small light indicators at the top of the keyboard and then five at the bottom to indicate various states such as Caps Lock on/off, Num Lock on/off, Scroll Lock on/off, Bluetooth on/off, touchpad on/off, battery charging, hard drive access and power on/off. I love the suttle look of these lights, and it’s very helpful to be able to look at a light to see what the status of a certain notebook feature is.
The screen uses a latchless mechanism for staying in the closed position. The V6800 actually uses a magnet to hold the screen down when closed and this works well for preventing any papers or other miscellaneous junk sliding between the keyboard and LCD screen while you carry the notebook around in a bag. However, you will have to push down on the base and up on the screen to open it up — and this is when I miss the easy opening screen mechanism of my ThinkPad.
One test I always make for seeing how well a screen is protected from the back is to push in on the lid to see if the screen ripples. If you get no ripples then you’ve got great protection, if your screen looks like a stone has just been thrown into a small pond — better be careful and not drop your notebook. Any way, doing this test with the V6V only caused a mild ripple after applying more pressure than I usually would. The screen is not as well protected as my ThinkPad T43 screen (where I can’t cause any ripples) but it’s a lot better than some Dell Inspiron notebooks I’ve done this test with.
Hardware shortcut buttons exist along the top edge of the keyboard for the V6V (view larger image)
In the open position (see picture at top) you’ll see that there are various hardware buttons for performing shortcut tasks. Or, maybe you won’t notice these buttons right away? That’s because the buttons are designed in a way so that they sort of blend into the design of the notebook, from a distance you won’t even notice the buttons are there. Along the top of the keyboard though you will see these well camouflaged buttons that can
- Touchpad Disable/Enable
- Power Mode/Notebook Usage mode switch
- Bluetooth On/Off
- Open Web Browser
- Turn Wireless On/Off
- Power Button
I’m a big fan of these buttons and the way they make it easy to quickly do common tasks with the punch of a button. I like the fact they blend in to the design, but as aesthetically pleasing as that is it’s hard to see these buttons, especially in a poorly lit room so it would have been nice to have them raised them just a bit and had a bit of color added to them.
The Asus V6800V has a 15.1″ SXGA (1400 x 1050) screen that provides for lots of viewing real estate. SXGA is my preferred screen resolution, the text size on the screen is certainly smaller than is rendered on an XGA screen, but to my eyes is still very readable. With SXGA resolution you can very easily see two program windows open at the same time and see more stuff on such things as Excel spreadsheets, web pages, word documents or code if you’re writing a program.
The Asus V6000 scren is crisp and offers bright colors (view larger image)
The screen is not the glossy glare type that so many love, but it is still nice and bright and very easy for viewing. Nice contrast. Asus calls the screen Crystal Shine as it is enhanced for brightness, from what I can tell via a stronger backlight than is typical. Vertical viewing angles are decent and the horizontal viewing angle is excellent, from a full side on view I could still make out text easily…I’d say I could read it perfectly but you’d all know I’m lying as it’s impossible to read from a full side on view.
Some people griped a lot about the Dell Inspiron 9300 having “sparkles” on the screen. This screen has a bit of that going on in white areas, but not to the point that it’s annoying or overly noticeable.
One thing I really like about the screen is how it sits relative to the base of the notebook. Asus has adopted an Apple PowerBook like design by making the screen hinge down below the base. What this means is that the screen does not stick up as much as your average 15.1″ screen that rests entirely above the notebook base (see the picture below of the sides to see how the screen hinges and sits below the top of the notebook base when opened).
Inputs and Ports
It’s picture time as we tour around the Asus V6800V to see what ports we have available.
The are no ports on the front, but there are five LED indicator lights on the left front side that happen to be all off in this picture (view larger image)
Asus V6V left-side (view larger image)
On the left side of the notebook is the optical drive (DVD burner for this configuration), PCMCIA slot, Infrared port, FireWire (IEEE 1394) port, Mini VGA/D-sub port (for output to a monitor or projector), and Kensington notebook lock hole.
Asus V6V back side (view larger image)
On the back there are no ports, this is so because the screen actually hinges below the main notebook body and any ports here would be covered by the screen when opened. But guess what, we have more lights! There are four lights on the back that actually mirror 4 that are on the front — battery warning, charging light, bluetooth on/off, wi-fi on/off.
Asus V6V right side (view larger image)
There’s a lot of action going on over on the right side of the notebook. We have the power jack port, modem jack, Ethernet/LAN port, four USB 2.0 ports, microphone-in, headphone out, multicard reader towards the front, and a vent and fan
So the number of ports is definitely good, more than the average notebook of this class. Big thumbs up on the multi-card reader. I would have liked to have seen a USB port on the left-side so the distribution of USB ports was more balanced.
Keyboard / TouchPad
Asus V6V touchpad and keyboard (view larger image)
The V6V offers a full sized keyboard. It’s easy enough to type on and there’s little flex (although some if you push very hard to force). Key feedback is decent and travel when pushing in a key is good. Overall I’d say this keyboard is a bit better than a Dell Inspiron but not as good as an IBM Thinkpad (but none are).
The touchpad is tough to use. I found a lot of jumpiness at times and it took several finger strokes to move the cursor across the screen when in SXGA resolution. You can of course play with and configure the touchpad, but I ended up being happier using a mouse as many people do when working at a desk with a notebook any way. The scroll area is a nice addition and it’s easy to enable/disable the touchpad via a button at the top of the keyboard.
The mouse buttons below the touchpad are pretty bad too. It’s good design to raise the buttons a little bit to make them easy to “feel”, but the V6V buttons are completely smooth and flat and there’s very little to no travel when pushing these buttons — just a slight click. They’re just not very satisfying or easy to find and push. So yeah, get a Bluetooth wireless mouse for easier input!
Processor and Performance
The Asus V6800V comes equipped with a Pentium M 750 1.86GHz processor, and for using standard work applications this is absolutely more than enough for what you’ll need. In general, with a 5400RPM hard drive and 512MB of RAM you’ll be very happy with the overall V6V speed performance. Running programs such as Microsoft Visual Studio, Adobe PhotoShop, Microsoft Word and Media Player at the same time, and flipping between them, were common tasks performed and never made the V6V hiccup.
With the dedicated ATI X600 64MB graphics card you’ll be able to do some gaming as well. Half Life 2 will run well on this notebook for instance and other such 3D games will not be a problem. Now that’s very nice to have with a thin and light notebook, there just aren’t too many such notebooks out there that give you the necessary graphics performance to play 3D games in this notebook category.
We use Super Pi to get a benchmark of processor speed. The Super Pi program simply forces the processor to calculate Pi to a selected number of digits of accuracy. Calculating to 2 million digits is our benchmark:
Comparison of notebooks using Super Pi to calculate Pi to 2 million digits (plugged in):
|Notebook||Time to Calculate Pi to 2 Million Digits|
|ASUS V6800V (1.86GHz Alviso Pentium M)||1m 44s|
|IBM ThinkPad T43 (1.86GHz Alviso Pentium M)||1m 45s|
|IBM ThinkPad T41 (1.6GHz Banias Pentium M)||2m 23s|
|Compaq R3000T (Celeron 2.8GHz)||3m 3s|
|Dell Inspiron 600m (1.6 GHz Dothan Pentium M)||2m 10s|
|Dell Inspiron 8600 (1.7GHz Banias Pentium M)||2m 28s|
Benchmarks for the Asus V6800V (ATI X600 64MB Graphics Card) compared to IBM Thinkpad T43 (ATI X300 64MB Graphics Card)
|Futuremark PCMark04 Scores|
|IBM T43 (1.86GHz)||Asus V6800V (1.86GHz)|
|Multithreaded Test 1 / File Compression||3.33 MB/s||3.38 MB/s|
|Multithreaded Test 1 / File Encryption||27.19 MB/s||27.28 MB/s|
|Multithreaded Test 2 / File Decompression||23.4 MB/s||24.38 MB/s|
|Multithreaded Test 2 / Image Processing||10.88 MPixels/s||10.67 MPixels/s|
|Multithreaded Test 3 / Virus Scanning||1914.17 MB/s||1908.66 MB/s|
|Multithreaded Test 3 / Grammar Check||2.82 KB/s||2.86 KB/s|
|File Decryption||54.11 MB/s||54.95 MB/s|
|Audio Conversion||2496.87 KB/s||2519.14 KB/s|
|Web Page Rendering||5.27 Pages/s||5.47 Pages/s|
|DivX Video Compression||51.71 FPS||50.47 FPS|
|Physics Calculation and 3D||159.19 FPS||170.77 FPS|
|Graphics Memory – 64 Lines||868.44 FPS||1611.55 FPS|
|Futuremark 3DMark05 Scores|
|3DMark Score||727 3DMarks||906 3D Marks|
|CPU Score||3414 CPUMarks||2981 CPUMarks|
|GT1 – Return To Proxycon||3.3 FPS||3.9 FPS|
|GT2 – Firefly Forest||2.2 FPS||2.8 FPS|
|GT3 – Canyon Flight||3.4 FPS||4.4 FPS|
|CPU Test 1||1.18 FPS||1.6 FPS|
|CPU Test 2||2.9 FPS||2.5 FPS|
So the Asus V6800V is about on par with my ThinkPad T43 in terms of performance for processor tests, but it really does better with graphics and gaming based benchmarks.
Now, the Asus V6V can’t touch the Dell Inspiron XPS 2 gaming notebook(http://www.notebookreview.com/default.asp?newsID=2282) 3DMark05 score of 4,915 3DMarks. But that’s not a very fair comparison as the XPS 2 is a behemoth and meant for playing games. Overall the performance of the V6V is excellent for its category of thin-and-light, maybe the best.
The sound on the Asus V6V is pretty good actually. I listen to National Public Radio talk radio during the day sometimes and the speakers were loud enough and clear enough for listening to such talk. It was a pretty decent experience for music too, I’d put the V6V in the 1/3 (one-third) of notebook speakers I’ve heard. But for playing music I still opted for headphones or a pair of Altec X10 external speakers that I have for better sound quality.
Heat & Fan
The V6V is a quiet machine, it makes little to no noise. The fan and hard drive do a good drive of keeping the noise down, the fan rarely kicks in.
I do have to complain about heat build up on the right palm rest. After running some 3D utilities that pushed the graphics card and processor there really was quite a bit of heat build up on the right palm rest area and you could feel it. In general that area stays warm, and if you’re doing something like playing a 3D game it can get a little toasty.
The Asus V6000 comes with built-in Bluetooth and 802.11 a/b/g wireless. It’s great that Bluetooth was included, so few notebooks offer this in the U.S. I had a problem initially getting Bluetooth to work because upon receiving the notebook it appears the drivers were note completely installed for the internal bluetooth card. Ooops. So I had to step through the process of using the drivers disk included by Asus and installing the Bluetooth manager, but it all worked after that. Now I’m able to pair with my phone and use the cell phone as a means of connecting to the web via GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) if I’m out of range of Wi-Fi or some type of landline internet connection.
The wi-fi card is an Intel branded one so this is a Centrino machine. I’ve never had problems connecting at distances of 100 feet from the access point, and that’s as far as I can go from the one in my office before I crash into a wall, so that’s as good as I need and no complaints.
The Asus A6V gave me exactly 3 hours and 1 minute of battery life with Wi-Fi on, screen at half brightness and while letting the notebook idle or use it to browse the web and do other small tasks. This is not bad for battery life. Others say they’ve been getting 3.5 hours per charge. That could easily be accomplished by turning off wi-fi, Bluetooth and setting the screen brightness down some. If you watch a movie you’ll get closer to 2 – 2.5 hours of battery, which is usually ample for watching a movie.
You know what was the most refreshing thing about the V6V? There wasn’t tons of garbage software installed. No AOL trial software thank goodness. In fact, it’s a pretty fresh install of Windows XP Pro other than some Asus utilities included for configuring your power settings, wireless and bluetooth settings, getting updates from Asus and a trial verson of Norton AntiVirus. Now the flip-side is that you don’t get any really cool software included for free, but I think most of us are happy to have a clean machine and install our own stuff anyway. I prefer that.
Service and Support
I haven’t had to use Asus service or support, but the warranty that’s included is for 24 months and Global in nature so that’s excellent. One really great thing is that Asus backs up its notebooks with a zero bright (stuck) pixel policy. This is awesome and a huge pat on the back to Asus. Some manufacturers will tell you that it takes up to 8 dead pixels before they consider their product flawed. A note on that is you have to deal directly with Asus for replacing an LCD and it must be within 30-days of purchase that you notice this
A big part of the service and support factor might depend on who you buy your Asus notebook from. Since obtaining an Asus notebook usually involves going to an independent seller, do your research as to who you are buying from and make sure they’re reputable. The reason I say this is that from what I’ve heard Asus support is okay, but it’s in the processor of maturing as they haven’t been selling their own branded notebooks as long as many other companies have and so they’ve got a learning curve.
Our review unit for the Asus V6V comes from Proportable (www.Proportable.com) who are well established and enthusiastic Asus resellers. You won’t go wrong with them and we recommend them as a buying outlet for an Asus notebook here in North America.
Worth a Mention
Everything that comes with the purchase of a V6800V (view larger image)
Asus includes a free sleeve, bag, notebook case and optical mouse with the purchase of the V6V. I know of no big name manufacturer that adds these in as a freebie with their products, so this is a nice touch. Also notice the included Windows XP Pro disc which is nice to have.
If you want a thin and light notebook with a good screen and excellent performance for its category, the V6V is definitely worth a look. The build of this notebook and look are very nice. A lot of people that shun big brand names such as Dell, HP or Apple (news break, Apple is not counter culture any more) and like to seek out notebook companies that are currently small players but offer strong products will like Asus. I have to confess this is the first Asus product I’ve used and, while I’ll stick to using my ThinkPad T43 for what my needs are, I’m impressed by this Asus offering and feel comfortable recommending the brand and this notebook in particular. Mobile professionals that like to do a little gaming or a college student that wants a notebook for work, play and mobility can look to this model. Thanks to PROPortable for giving me this opportunity to review the V6800V.
- Excellent performance for a thin-and-light notebook, the 1.86GHz Pentium M 750 and ATI X600 64MB graphics card shine.
- Nice simple design, dark aluminum look and ample blue LED pinhole sized indicator lights give a cool look.
- 15.1″ screen gives nice and bright display, SXGA resolution gives excellent viewing real estate
- Very good array and number of ports available
- If you like to be a little different and not go with a well known (boring) major brand, Asus might appeal to you
- No excessive amount of “free” software installed that wastes system resources
- Right side palm rest gets hot when pushing the notebook to perform demanding tasks
- Touchpad, specifically mouse buttons are hard to use
- Bluetooth drivers were not properly installed upon receiving the notebook
- Although the use of magnets to keep the screen closed was good, I miss having a latch closing mechanism for easy opening of the screen (this is a bit of a personal preference)
Pricing and Availability
Asus is available worldwide, but they are generally not sold in mainstream retail outlets such as Best Buy or CompUSA in the U.S. Rather you’ll find Asus sold by independent stores. Do your research when buying from an independent seller, using online forums or word of mouth is a great way to find out what people think about particular Asus sellers. We are able to of course recommend PROPortable.com if you’re in North America, but there are other honest and good sellers out there so once you’ve decided that an Asus notebook might fit your needs then do your homework and find a good place to buy from.
V6800V Price: $2,199 at PROPortable.com (check site for current pricing and availability)