by Jeff Shaginaw
Asus Z70v (view larger image)
Like so many of my fellow notebook aficionados, I spent months searching for the perfect notebook for MY needs. I’ve already got a very nice SFF desktop PC (Athlon 3200+, ATI X800 XT PE, Dell 2405FPW 24″ LCD) to satisfy my addiction to marathon sessions of FPS mayhem and destruction, so a hi-end gaming notebook wasn’t on my radar. I’m also a die-hard convert to widescreens, so standard 4:3 notebooks were not an option, either. I wanted a notebook for my writing and multimedia work. I also do some work-related traveling, and that’s going to increase over the next few years. So, my notebook must be dependable, light and a bit of style would be a nice bonus, too.
I’ve tried lots of notebooks such as the Dell Inspiron 8600, HP ZT3000, and Sager 3790. They were okay, but just didn’t “grab me,” if you know what I mean. I’ve always liked the Asus line of notebooks, but they never offered a 15.4″ WSXGA+ model, except for the wildly overpriced and underpowered W1.
Imagine, if you can, my unbridled excitement when I learned about the new Z70v. It had the fantastic M6N carbon fiber chassis combined with the Sonoma platform and a 15.4″ WSXGA+ screen. My dream notebook finally had arrived!!
My Z70v is equipped as follows:
- Pentium M 730 (1.6GHz, 533MHz)
- 1 GB PC4200
- 40 GB 5400 RPM Seagate
- 8X DVD RW dual layer
- Intel Pro 2915 a/b/g wireless
- 15.4″ WSXGA+ (1680×1050)
- ATI X600 PCIe w/64 MB
Total Price (including S/H): $1506
As noted previously, the notebook’s primary use is work. To that end, I’ve installed Microsoft XP Pro and Office, FrameMaker, RoboHelp, RoboDemo (which will be upgraded to Captivate), Paint Shop Pro, and Visio. I’ll also get Maya and an animation app in a couple of weeks. I thought I might need to add an external hard drive, but all of these programs take up less than 15 GB on my Z70v’s hard drive. This leaves plenty of room for my work files (large Word and FrameMaker documents, video and demo files, etc.).
I went with the minimum Sonoma processor (1.6GHz) because I planned to upgrade to a 2GHz or higher once prices dropped, later this year. However, everything runs extremely well and I couldn’t be more pleased with the speed. I might just stick with what I’ve got and spend my money on some other toy.
Since I don’t game on my notebook, a top-shelf graphics card wasn’t necessary. Nevertheless, the ATI X600 PCIe card is more than robust enough to handle my graphics and 3D animation files, as well as any DVD or video I want to watch. If you’re looking for a comparison, I’ve read that the X600 is a bit stronger than the older ATI 9700 in terms of graphics performance.
I haven’t noticed any unexpected heat while using my Z70v. In fact, the warmest it ever felt was during the half hour or so it took to install the software I listed above. The area to the left of the touchpad got the warmest, but it was never uncomfortable to the touch. I suspect that my notebook might put out more heat while cranking out some serious 3D work with Maya, but it won’t be anything like that which might be generated during games.
I ran a couple of tests, the results of which are posted below:
- 3DMark2005: 1110, no overclocking
- Battery life: 3 hours running DVDs; 4:30 hours on the lowest power consumption settings
In a single word: superb!! Asus has a solid reputation for engineering and design. From everything I’ve seen in my Z70v, that reputation is very well deserved. Anyone who’s owned the M6N series will know exactly what I mean. I absolutely love the carbon fiber chassis. It feels sturdy, yet very sleek. The keyboard is firm and responsive with just the slightest hint of flex by the Caps Lock key. The traditional, Asus bright blue power button looks cool, as do the five tiny indicator lights that line up along the front left corner of the notebook.
Asus Z70v back side (view larger image)
Front LED indicator lights on the Z70v (view larger image)
The touchpad is the most unique I’ve ever seen on a notebook. It’s rectangular, so it matches the scope of the widescreen LCD. The touchpad is bordered by a slim aluminum frame. The buttons are not buttons, at all. They’re actually integrated into the aluminum frame and can’t be seen. I think it’s a very slick design.
Asus Z70v keyboard and touchpad (view larger image)
The Z70v weighs in at just six pounds with its optical drive. I haven’t weighed it with the travel module, but I believe the module knocks off about a third of a pound of the notebook’s weight. Either way, the Z70v is easy to carry around. I’m using a Booq 15″ Power Sleeve instead of the slim briefcase that’s included with the notebook.
Asus Z70v right side (view larger image)
Asus Z70v left side (view larger image)
A couple of pleasant little surprises were the battery location and the power supply. The battery is mounted directly under the front end of the notebook. This has the effect of distributing more weight forward, thus keeping the notebook flat as you raise the lid to view the screen. You don’t have to hold down the base when opening the notebook. As for the power supply, I’m used to the large brick that’s typical of most notebooks. The Z70v’s “brick” is closer to the size and weight of my Nextel i730 cell phone. Very nice!!
Asus Z70v closed (view larger image)
Asus Z70v sliding into a Booq brand notebook sleeve (view larger image)
The widescreen, 1680×1050 resolution is perfect for a 15.4″ notebook. My screen has zero dead/stuck pixels, is bright and vivid with great color range, and NO sparkles whatsoever. It’s got the matte finish, which I find infinitely preferable to those hideous high gloss/glare screens that make me feel like I’m staring into a mirror. I’ve played several DVDs and all looked very sharp. I’ll bet any game will look great on this beautiful screen.
I have the Intel 2915 a/b/g card which works quite well. I had my notebook on my boat a few hundred feet out in Lake Oconee (near Augusta, GA) and I actually picked up the wireless network in the nearby Ritz Carlton hotel. Now THAT was just too cool!! The Z70v comes hardwired for internal Bluetooth, including a designated on/off button. However, there is no internal BT card, at the moment. This option is supposed to be available later this year. It most likely will require professional installation. I’m using the Linksys USB BT100 Bluetooth adapter, right now. It works just fine, but I might upgrade to the internal BT once it’s released.
You’re in luck because there are several first-class Asus vendors from which to choose. I went with ISTNC because a friend recommended them. He bought his M3Ne from ISTNC, last year, and had nothing but praise to offer. Rick and Gwen Rogers run ISTNC. They’re very nice, knowledgeable and quick to respond to questions. My Z70v has a defective left speaker in the screen and Rick is right on top of getting it replaced for me.
Two other vendors, ProPortable and Geared2Play, are also very highly thought of in the Asus community. Justin, from ProPortable, and Eddie, from G2P, are Jedi Masters when it comes to Asus computers. Justin offered to send me a free replacement speaker and I didn’t even buy my Z70v from him!! You really can’t go wrong with any of these three companies.
I’m extremely pleased with my Z70v. It’s the best notebook I’ve ever owned. I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re in the market for a big, graphics devouring, desktop replacement notebook. The Asus Z71v and W2, Sager 3880, 7620, and 9860, or Dell Inspiron 9300 and XPS2 would be better choices for you. But, if you’ve got a good desktop PC and want something mobile and powerful for business or personal use, you’ll have a difficult time finding a better choice than the Z70v.
WHERE TO BUY: