Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Asus VivoBook S500 Review: Touchscreen laptops with Windows 8 are great!

There's any number of reasons why you're interested in picking up a this particular laptop from Asus. Perhaps you want premium build quality at a reasonable price, perhaps you want a touchscreen laptop to give Windows 8 a fair shot on or perhaps you want a good all rounder which will serve you well for a few years. In any of them examples then the VivoBook S500 is well worth consideration and here's what us guys here at TTF think of it!


The VivoBook S500 is a really nice laptop to hold and from the second we got it out of the box this thing was screaming premium! One thing to behold is how thin this thing is compared to our Toshiba Portege and ageing HP laptop! It's also really dense and you'll notice the weight on this thing! This might be, in part, due to the choice of materials: the brushed black aluminium on top, silver aluminium around the keyboard and on the sides and underneath the soft touch plastic could all add to the heft.

   One thing worth mentioning is that the plastic on the bottom is a good idea; it makes the whole laptop easier to carry in one hand. It's also a good way of getting rid of the heat which this thing creates when it's on your lap, which can be noticeable if you're taxing it!

   On the whole though this is a very good looking laptop and it definitely has a premium aura. As you can see in the picture below it’s about as thick as a ten pence piece when the lid is closed and the tapered base looks great!


   Performance is one place where this device excels, the Core i5 processor combined with Windows 8 is a great pairing and the reality is that this is a very capable machine! In the month since we've had this machine we've struggled to make it slow down; it's happy to handle ten or more tabs going in Google Chrome, as well as Spotify, Outlook and Word all at the same time. We don't really do much video editing so we're not sure if it can handle things like that, but we're sure it's not out of the question!

   If you're looking at this device from a consumer standpoint and Windows 8 is a concern, then banish that thought right now! We've even got something to help ease your minds: perhaps the best way to think of Windows 8 is Windows 7 with a new touch layer over the top. In that sense this sort of device offers you the best of both worlds because you can make use of the touchscreen and the desktop modes with this laptop!

   For those music and film connoisseurs amongst you there's plenty of storage on here, although there isn't an SSD unfortunately. The 500GB hard-drive is a solid enough start and when you've got Office and other things such as Google Chrome installed you’ll be left with somewhere in the region of 400GB of storage! If that isn't enough don't worry, because there's a comprehensive set of ports which we'll come onto later!

The Keyboard and Touchpad:

The keyboard on this laptop looks better then it is. The Macbook-esque design isn't reflected in the quality of the keyboard. We can say that the keys are well spaced and that you won't have any trouble hitting them, but once you have hit them they have no travel and they just don't feel nice!

   Another gripe is that the keyboard isn't backlit so don't expect this to be a good companion for movies in bed! If you're thinking about getting this for a lot of typing then you'll have an ok experience once you get used to those keys!

   We also struggled with the touchpad on this Vivobook. As you can see in the picture to the right, there's a small dividing line at the bottom of the touch area which segregates the right click from the left click areas. Aesthetically this makes things look nicer, but when it comes to using it it's a pain unless you check where your fingers are. The touch area is to the left of centre on the laptop and we found ourselves left-clicking a lot of the time when we wanted a right click. Unfortunately we found similar issues with the gestures. Where we were used to resting out fingers on physical buttons after right clicking we ended up accidentally pinching to zoom, which gets tiresome after a while. On the plus side though the two finger scroll on the touchpad worked a treat!
"This is the easiest part of the review to write! The touchscreen is fantastic!"

The Screen: 

   This is the easiest part of the review to write! The touchscreen is fantastic! Initially, our thoughts were, 'what is the point?' Well it turns out after you've had it for a while you find yourself reaching for the screen a lot more often then you'd think and once you've mastered the Windows 8 gestures it's simply more practical to use the touchscreen on the Live Tile menu then it is to select them with the touchpad. Call us crazy, but we're converted to touchscreen laptops! The only problem is that you start to think that everything's touch and we've given our standard laptops some prods and well that didn't do them any good!

    You'll probably want to keep a cleaning cloth nearby though because smudges and grim get annoying quite quickly, especially if you're working in a brightly lit room!

   Aside from that the screen is really nice. Colour reproduction is good, the brightness is again good and the only criticism is that in 2013 we don't think that 1366 x 768p spread across 15.6" is really where we should be at the moment, but that's the only criticism we have of the display!


   As always with battery there are huge amounts of variables, but let us put it this way. Unless you plan to use this thing on the lowest display brightness (you won't) and you don't plan on using it for hours on end, you will be carrying your charger around with you.

   In our experience, with the screen at full brightness, the device managed to get through about three hours with browsing and word processing, we didn't do anything intensive and if you want music through the built in speakers, which you might, you can cut about another hour off of that on a charge.

   We have a feeling Asus knew what they were doing when they offered a two year guarantee with the computer, but only a one year one for the battery!


   The speakers are actually very good on this laptop, it's hard to fault the. The sound output is normally a key component of a modern laptop and this is hard to beat. The speakers are housed beneath the keyboard and they seem to angle the sound right at you when you're sitting in front of
the screen typing!

    The speakers aren't the loudest in the world, but they manage to retain their output quality all the way up to full volume and they should be more than enough for everything except parties! We're not sure how much of this is down to Asus' Sonicmaster enhancements, but some of the music profiles which are offered are nice and it's an extra feature which other companies don't necessarily offer in the same price bracket!

Connections and ports:

The connections should be more than enough for everything you’ll ever need. On the left you'll find a full size SD card slot, two USB 2.0 ports and a key lock hole. The right houses the Ethernet port, VGA and HDMI outputs and one high-speed USB 3.0 port. It's actually a really good selection and we're definitely impressed!

The charging port is also on the right and the charger which Asus have given us with this laptop is a good length, but not the longest in the world, so bear that in mind, because you'll be connected to the wall a fair bit!

The Wrap-Up:

Overall this is a really good laptop for the price. If you think for £550 you get premium build quality, great sound, a comprehensive array of ports and connections and that touchscreen. This is value for money and we're more than happy to recommend this device to anyone out there who wants a powerful, well priced laptop which will serve them well into the future! And don't forget to check out the video overview from Asus' Republic of Gamers to see if their opinions line up with ours!


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