ASUS PL30JT First Impressions

I’m very excited to be typing this on my brand new ASUS PL30JT. When I was looking for user reviews of this machine over the last couple of days I didn’t find many, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to help others interested in this machine, as well as test out the keyboard a little more extensively. Please keep in mind that my last laptop is an Apple Macbook Pro circa 2005, so a lot of the standard features on new laptops are possibly novel and exciting to me.

Performance

The specific model that I have is the PL30JT – RO025X. I’m sure you can find the detailed specs online, but the basic rundown is: i5 520UM, 4GB DDR3, 500GB 5400RPM HD, NVIDIA 310M + Intel Onboard (HM55 chipset), Altec Lansing speakers. I’m running the default Win7 Pro that comes installed on the machine, complete with most of ASUS’ bloatware. The first thing I’ve noted is that I don’t feel like I’ve had to wait for anything. Performance is certainly comparable to that of my desktop (Q6600 + 4GB RAM). I haven’t run any games or other intensive apps, however for browsing and other basic tasks, it feels very zippy and responsive. That said, I’ve been connected to mains power the whole time while I wait for the battery to charge. This allows the graphics and CPU to scale with requirements. I’ll be interested to see how things go while running on battery with no “overclocking” enabled.

Display and Sound

Looks good to me. Text is easy to read, colours look vibrant, and the lighting seems to be even. I’m certainly not a connoisseur when it comes to displays, but I’m more than happy looking at it. I’m not sure whether this is a strictly matte or glossy display, as it seems fairly subdued, but also a little more reflective than other matte screens I’ve seen.

I must say, when I first fired up some music using the installed speakers, I was a little blown away. Compared to the sound I’ve heard on any other laptop of this size, this thing wins hands down. Not only is it reasonably loud, it’s also very clear for built-in laptop speakers. Of course, they’re not perfect, and you’re not going to get decent bass out of any speakers on a thin and light. At least not at this price point.

Build Quality and Keyboard

For a fairly cheap thin and light laptop, the PL30JT feels pretty solid. The lid has a fancy brushed aluminium surface, however the display and casing bends fairly easily. It doesn’t feel like it’s going to snap, but it’s certainly not rock solid either. I don’t see the flexibility being an issue during transport or normal use, however it may be something to keep in mind if you’re rough with your toys. For me, having such a thin and light machine is certainly worth the less durable construction.

As for the rest of the machine, it’s all plastic and rubber (around the keyboard) except for the palm rest, which has also received the bushed aluminium treatment. While the body obviously isn’t carved from a single block of aluminium, it’s also not heavy, and again, not a problem if you’re not heavy handed. Remember, this is a chic business machine, not a Toughbook.

Finally, now that I’ve been tapping away at the keyboard for over 500 words, I can say that I like it. I’m not the best typist, nor am I overly used to the chiclet style keyboard that the ASUS sports, however I can say that it’s at least average for the range of keyboards I’ve tested in shops. The keys feel a little bit light in terms of their materials, however the travel and feedback let you know that you’re typing without sticking or requiring too much force. To be honest it feels most similar to the keyboard on the new MBP, but maybe a little bit stiffer with a little more travel.

Once I’ve had a chance to run some graphics and battery tests, then time permitting, I’ll post an assessment of those elements. For now, time to sleep.

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