Asus N82Jv: A Good but Heavy Media Notebook
At a Glance
The Asus N82Jv has good graphics, a nice screen, and a USB 3.0 port. If only it weren't so heavy.
If you're looking for a solid media notebook that's small (though not terribly lightweight) and quick, the Asus N82Jv all-purpose laptop is a good bet. The N82Jv features a snappy 2.4GHz Intel Core i5 450M processor (with turbo boost up to 2.66GHz), a 500GB hard drive, an nVidia GeForce GT 335M graphics card (plus integrated Intel HD Graphics), and the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium.
This 14-inch laptop also has 4GB of RAM, a USB 3.0 connection (backward-compatible with USB 2.0), a 2-megapixel Webcam, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and the option for mobile broadband. At $999, the Asus N82Jv may seem pricey for the market, but it's actually a pretty decent buy.
As for its looks, the Asus N82Jv is not for everyone. The lid has a chocolate-brown metallic appearance with a tiny cube pattern; that same pattern extends to the inside of the laptop, on a strip above the keyboard and on the textured trackpad. The rest of the design is fairly unimpressive--the wristpad is a nice matte black (no fingerprints!), and the keyboard has lightly textured, matte-black Chiclet keys surrounded by shiny black plastic. Above the keyboard, you'll find only two buttons: the power button on the right side and a button for switching through power-saving modes on the left side.
Ports-wise, the Asus N82Jv is standard. Although it does have a USB 3.0 port, it has only three USB ports total (the usual for a laptop of this size is four). On the left side of the laptop are a VGA-out port, an HDMI-out port, the USB 3.0 port, and headphone and microphone jacks. On the right side are a DVD player/recorder, a Kensington lock slot, and, behind a flap, a USB 2.0 port, a USB/eSATA combo port, and an ethernet port. The Asus N82Jv also sports a multiformat card reader on the front, as well as a physical Wi-Fi switch (always a nice feature).
Unfortunately, this machine is not a great choice if you're hunting for something sleek--while the metallic outer casing makes the laptop look appealing, the chassis is clunky (the bottom of the laptop is sculpted to make it appear thinner). The N82Jv measures 13.8 inches wide by 9.7 inches long, and has a thickness of 1.4 inches. It weighs about 5.2 pounds, making it portable but not exactly fun to tote around. Unfortunately, the extra bulk isn't hiding a hefty battery--you'll barely get 3 hours with the default battery.
The keyboard is the typical Chiclet-style affair. The outer edges of the laptop are slightly concave, and while that doesn't do anything except make the area more visually interesting, we appreciate the effort. The keyboard is decently comfortable to type on, but the feedback is a little weak and the keys are just a tad too small.
The touchpad is interesting: It's a halfway-there multitouch pad that supports two-finger scrolling but not pinch-to-zoom (which, thanks to Apple, now defines multitouch). You get a dark gray, mirrored plastic rocker bar instead of separate mouse buttons; although the rocker bar feels cheap (as do most rocker bars), it's easy to press and gives good feedback. The touchpad is also nicely responsive.
The 14-inch LED-backlit screen has a standard native resolution of 1366 by 768 pixels. Its glossy surface isn't great for off-axis viewing or for viewing in bright/direct sunlight, but it produces vivid, clear colors and crisp images.
Video playback on the Asus N82Jv is good, thanks to the Core i5 processor and nVidia GeForce GT 335M discrete graphics card. You'll have no trouble playing streaming video on Hulu or Netflix, and DVD playback is good quality as well. It would be nice to see a Blu-ray drive instead of a DVD player, but the laptop is priced somewhat high as it is.
The speakers, which are located on the front of the computer (on either side of the multiformat card reader slot and the Wi-Fi switch), are average for laptop speakers--a little on the low side and lacking in depth, but passable if you're just trying to watch a clip or two. For audiophiles, I definitely suggest investing in some headphones.
When you open the Start menu on this thing, it might look as if you've already been using it for a while, considering how much software is preinstalled. The N82Jv runs Windows 7 Home Premium (the 64-bit version, hooray), and comes preinstalled with Microsoft Office 2010 (you can choose to buy the full version or use the Starter version), a trial of Trend Micro Internet Security, CyberLink Blu-ray Disc Suite, Boingo Wi-Fi, Skype, Windows Live, Amazon Kindle, and a bunch of utility programs. The utilities include a USB 3.0 host controller driver, a recovery disc burner, and Asus's version of Photo Booth (called LifeFrame), among other tools.
While the Asus N82Jv is priced fairly high for today's market, it's a respectable choice if you're seeking a snappy media laptop with good graphics. Unfortunately, Asus seems to have focused more on the system's USB 3.0 port than on its portability, and a 5.2-pound 14-inch laptop seems practically backbreaking.