back to article Asus NV550JV 15.6in full HD notebook - the one we didn't have to send back

When Asus sent the N550 to Vulture Central, I sent it back: the wrong model had been dispatched. Having seen so many tiresome comments following El Reg laptop reviews along the lines of “when I saw it was only 1366 x 768 I stopped reading”, I wasn’t going to proceed with this spec - and with more than these moans as …

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  1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  2. CaptainHook

    372GB

    for an OS partition?

    1. Patrick R
      Joke

      Re: 372GB

      You have to be prepared for an upgrade to Windows 9 which will probably take ~170Gig for a clean install.

  3. Steve I

    Tray-loading optical drive?

    Just looks nasty these days.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Tray-loading optical drive?

      You clearly have never had slot loader scratch the crap out of your discs.

      1. Steve I

        Re: Tray-loading optical drive?

        You're right - in years and years of owning slot-loading optical drives, I've never had one scratch the crap out of my discs.

        1. Eradicate all BB entrants

          Re: Tray-loading optical drive?

          A fubar upgrade of OSX on a slot loading macbook put me off them for life. Wouldn't complete the upgrade, and kept rebooting, seeing the disk and trying to run the upgrade again. Refused to obey the eject key and my universal cd-rom ejection tool (paperclip) could not save me. Took almost a day to get the damn disk out.

          1. Synonymous Howard

            Re: Tray-loading optical drive?

            Reboot and hold down mouse button to force an eject.

          2. Z80

            Re: Tray-loading optical drive?

            When faced with a similar problem recently I did a quick bit of Googling and found that holding the option key at startup brings up a screen allowing you to select the startup volume. The eject key works from there.

    2. ecofeco Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Tray-loading optical drive?

      And you'll fit the slot loading mechanism in, how, exactly?

      And keep the cost down as well?

      And shock resistant?

      But feel free to invent one for laptops. After all, the "cool factor" is worth it, isn't it?

  4. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Boffin

    Mandatory

    When I saw 'HD 1920 x 1080' I stopped reading

    screens should be at least 1920x1200 in this day and age.

    I'll be waiting for the 'whiff of Apple' comments about not having a VGA port and needing to use an adapter cable with interest.

    If this were to be my desktop replacement then I'd need at least 24Gb of Ram. will this device take that?

    People running multiple VM's is not that uncommon these days.

    1. Steve I

      No VGA port?

      It should have one. Along with serial, parallel and PS2 ports. Oh, and the ability to swap the optical drive for a floppy, whilst we,re reminiscing.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No VGA port?

        Where the hell is the telephone line modem jack???

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: No VGA port?

          Demand an integrated acoustic couple or GTFO!

      2. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: No VGA port?

        Steve? Old School Steve? Is that you?

        Almost didn't recognize you!

        1. channel extended
          FAIL

          Re: No VGA port? Whynot VGA?

          I give presentations to a lot of companies through out the country and most of them use a VGA connect to a projector. This is a cheap AND reliable way to show data. With no VGA connect This makes it far less useful.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: No VGA port? Whynot VGA?

            The previous version (which I have) has both VGA and HDMI out, but in any case I have adaptors for both HDMI-> DVI and HDMI->VGA. Given the size of the power supplies on these things (i7 with 16G of RAM does use a few watts) an adaptor or two makes no odds.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "With no VGA connect This makes it far less useful."

            Dear Random Capitalisation Bloke,

            Carry a tiny little adaptor in your bag, end of problem. VGA users are now outliers, so you may as well prepare yourself now and suffer less hurt in the future.

    2. Arthur Kater :-D ☺

      Mandatory

      1920x1080 or 1920x1200... I really wonder who would see the difference.

      24GB... no. Very, very few people need that amount of RAM. Not even in their desktops.

      Remember, you are looking here at an off-the shelve product. Not a highly customized-for-you device.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Off the shelf laptops

        WTF?

        My 8 month old HP Elitebook can take 32Gb Ram. (and 3 HDD's)

        My old Dell 9600 had a 1920x1200 screen. Again, an off the shelf product.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Off the shelf laptops

          Well if you don't like it, here's an idea, don't fucking buy it.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Mandatory

        "1920x1080 or 1920x1200... I really wonder who would see the difference."

        1920x1080 is the HDTV 16:9 format. It is hard to buy a standalone monitor now in 1920x1200. Presumably the bulk production of 1920x1080 panels for TVs has produced an economy of scale.

        A free-standing 1920x1200 monitor plays HD content with black bands above and below - useful for parking the player's on-screen controls. If you have 1920x1200 on a laptop then you will have those same bands effectively reducing your picture size for a given screen height.

        1. tentimes

          Re: Mandatory

          No they don't. The controls just overlay and you have a nice 16:9 experience without stupid black bands top and bottom.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "It is hard to buy a standalone monitor now in 1920x1200"

          No it isn't, what are you smoking, Cletus?

          A very unscientific "mashing my head against google" turned up a candidate in literally seconds:

          http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dell-U2410-24-Widescreen-Monitor/dp/B0031U1AFU

          Plenty more where that came from, too.

      3. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit

        Re: I really wonder who would see the difference.

        Many many people. 16:9 is great for watching DVDs and a pain in the ass for anything else. 1920x1200 is 16:10, the difference seems small but it is a great deal better for most work tasks. As for RAM, you don't use VMs do you. If you did you'd know there is no such thing as too much RAM.

        1. Gary Bickford

          Re: I really wonder who would see the difference.

          "you'd know there is no such thing as too much RAM" - indeed! I regularly run _programs_ that swallow up several GB. I actually use a laptop as a real computer, so I can work without having to sit at a desk.

      4. Carabus

        Re: Mandatory

        1080 is not quite tall enough to display an A4 page at 100% zoom using Word 2011, so I guess 1200 might just do the job. 1440 would be better. Similarly large Excel sheets like tall screens, you can see more data without scrolling.

        1080 and 16:9 is just for TV screens.

    3. Dave K

      Re: Mandatory

      Regrettably, 16:10 displays are extinct on laptops outside the Macbook pro. It's annoying as I find 16:9 to be a horrible aspect ratio for working (all width, no height), but there you are. The reason is simply that 16:10 displays are more expensive to produce and none of the manufacturers (apart from Apple) seem to think they're worth it, even on a high-end laptop.

      A pity. If a company like Lenovo could make a nice, 16:10 laptop with a 1920x1200 matte screen, 256GB SSD and decent keyboard/trackpad (with buttons), I'd buy one now - even for £1,000+.

      1. ElReg!comments!Pierre
        Trollface

        Re: Mandatory

        > The reason is simply that 16:10 displays are more expensive to produce and none of the manufacturers (apart from Apple)

        Don't take it personally but the fact that anyone with a clue would call it "8:5" may also explain why "16:10" is not a common format.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Mandatory

          Perhaps it's commonly referred to as 16:10 instead of 8:5 because the former is more easily contrasted with 16:9? As anyone with a clue knows though you could of course just refer to the latter as 8:4.5.

          1. ElReg!comments!Pierre
            Paris Hilton

            Re: Mandatory

            > you could of course just refer to the latter as 8:4.5

            Of course not, as anyone with a cousin with half a clue could have told you that you just reduce the fraction to its lowest integer terms. That's just how you describe formats, otherwise there's no reason to use fractions in the first place.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Mandatory

              > Of course not, as anyone with a cousin with half a clue could have told you that you just reduce the fraction to its lowest integer terms.

              I'm really at a loss now if you don't get sarcasm (American?) or if this is some sort of wickedly sarcastic response that I don't fully get.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. xyz

      Re: Mandatory

      I only read the article because I thought it said "a whiff of B&Q about it".....bugger!

  5. A K Stiles
    Facepalm

    Track pad alignment

    The track pad looks like it is actually centred on the main keyboard, but the numeric keypad to the side makes that be 'not-centred' to the whole laptop and therefore screen. For touch typing that may be a good thing, but without trying it I couldn't say where would be best (in my subjective opinion). Oh, also an adaptable Left-hander.

    but yes, why is it so difficult to find a laptop with a better than HD screen? HD is for television, not computing!

    (Doh! icon 'cos it's a left-handed face-palm)

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Track pad alignment

      To be honest, the first thing I do on a laptop with a touch pad is turn the damn thing off... if I'm actually using it while travelling, fair enough, but if there's anywhere to roll a mouse, even my knee, that's generally preferable.

      A touch pad that just did straightforward things like tracking my finger, with a marked area for a click, is usable; these days they seem to decide that random touches from your palm are intended as complex clicks and anything can happen.

      1. Synonymous Howard

        Re: Track pad alignment

        Could not live without a trackpad now .. then again I use a Macbook Pro and that trackpad has a tendency to just work as expected. However on a 'work' Lenovo I would agree the trackpad should be taken out and shot .. the nipple rules on that one.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Track pad alignment

        "A touch pad that just did straightforward things like tracking my finger, with a marked area for a click, is usable; these days they seem to decide that random touches from your palm are intended as complex clicks and anything can happen."

        Several linux GUIs (at least) have options to disable trackpad input while keys are being typed, specifically to deal with this kind of issue. I'm surprised this isn't standard in Windows.

  6. dajames Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Also Mandatory

    Yes, but does it run Linux?

    1. Patrick Moody

      Re: Also Mandatory

      Wasn't that in the article? I'm pretty sure the answer was essentially "almost".

  7. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Mushroom

    A note to UI designers

    Stop designing interfaces to the audio/video hardware that look like something coming out of a soldering shop that received mechanical dials and random analog hardware from a B-52 yard sale, glued it together and plastered made-up and trademarked logos everywhere on the resulting box. That kind of old-style hardware was designed not because it was kewl but because there was no other way.

    DOING SO TODAY IS DUMB. IT'S CONFUSING! IT'S NEEDLESSLY COMPLICATED. IT'S FOR 15-YEAR OLDS!

    It gets even worse when the flexibility of a computer-interface is added in at random points (Do you hear, Amarok designer? Yes, get rid of your shitty volume control button first, then get rid of the rest of your shit too.)

    Nurse, my blood pressure is off the chart again.

    1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Re: A note to UI designers

      Upvoted - you beat me to it.

      Remember when it was obligatory for DVD player software to have a UI designed to look like an especially chavvy car radio? Because people are used to watching DVDs on the car radio.

  8. Matthew 17

    I bought my son the pre-haswell version of this.....

    Not a bad machine, looks quite good, nice screen and sound.

    Has the usual PC laptop issues though, the battery is poor, the standard SATA drive is very slow, had to put in an SSD and the top bends when you're using it so the track pad gets spurious data and zaps your mouse pointer all over the screen at random forcing you to use an external one.

    For its price it's not a bad machine but I think it illustrates the benefit of spending a bit more and getting something with a more solid chassis.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I stopped reading when...

    I saw that it doesn't have an SSD drive... :-)

    1. Dave K

      Re: I stopped reading when...

      A Solid State Drive Drive??

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I stopped reading when...

        "A Solid State Drive Drive??"

        No: A Solid State Drive drive.

    2. Tromos

      Re: I stopped reading when...

      I stopped reading when I got to the end of the article.

      The notebook would be much improved by adding a second (user accessible) drive bay that could be used for an SSD or simply HDD expansion.

  10. 1Rafayal
    Joke

    Poor display

    I stopped reading when I saw it didnt have a 4K display

  11. Me?

    Does anyone make a laptop for work?

    I do not watch films, use the speakers, or play games I program and 1080 is not enough for the development tools I use.

    1. JC_

      Dell sell the M4800 with a 3200x1800 15.6" screen.

      It doesn't make much sense to shop in the consumer section and complain that the laptops don't have the features you need...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Thanks for the link that did seem interesting for a moment. But seriously, what happened to Dell's laptop configurability? The last few I've looked at had little to none. Here we have three models and you've got to either take a 500 GB hybrid drive, 8 GB, 1920x1080 screen (with a choice of Win8 or at £30 more, Win7), or a higher-res screen with 256 GB SSD, 16 GB and Windows 8.

        What if I want just 16 GB but am happy with the lower-res screen, what if I want the top model but with Win7 or the lower-res screen but with an SSD? Not possible.

        Oh, wait a minute... Even the top-of-the-line £1949 + VAT + Shipping model doesn't have 3G, let alone 4G. What a poor showing, Dell.

        And 16:9 really isn't to my taste (though at 1920x1080 it's sort of bearable). Perhaps I'll get the next iteration of the Chromebook Pixel, if I can replace the built in SSD at reasonable cost with one that's >=120 GB. I hear it runs Linux nicely.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Dell M4800

          Indeed, the configuration options on this machine are bonkers. I would have paid the money had I been able to have 16G with a hybrid rotating drive (lots of database work, a 256G SSD will need frequent replacing). Can't have it. I ended up with the earlier N56V because it was dead easy to get 16G and put in a hybrid drive, and it ended up costing half as much. So I use an external monitor a lot, but when I need a lot of screen space I'm almost always in an office.

          With Windows, I put the bar down the left hand side, like Unity, so as to get the full screen height. It's a small change that makes much better use of the wide screen.

          1. jason 7

            Re: Dell M4800

            Yes a Hybrid HDD would be a good compromise in such machines.The cost difference isn't that great. I've installed a couple of the new Seagate 500GB Hybrid laptops drives in machines and was very impressed by the performance from them.

            Worth checking out if you want the space but also the general pep of an SSD.

    2. xyz

      >>Does anyone make a laptop for work?

      They all do...thing is it's just not cool to say so. The end result of needing a laptop for work in these tablet trendy times is what my GF ends up doing...1 laptop (because she's a proper business person who needs to type stuff and do all that other business stuff). 1 iPhone (because they took away her Blackberry because it wasn't cool enough), 1 Samsung Galaxy tablet (because a client's app only works on Android) and 1 Kindle Fire HD (because she reads books at night...I know, I know, I've explained all that) and she still carries enough paper to rebuild half the Amazon in her laptop bag.

  12. dotdot

    if it doesn't run ubu or Linux mint - then .. there's nothing more to be said.

    nothing.

    1. mmeier

      Agreed! The unit is clearly a recommended buy! Just ordered five :)

  13. StanBumps

    Good write up. Seems like a mixed bag. Nice resolution, design, optical drive and expansion would be pluses but the subwoofer and the presence of Windows 8 instead of 7 are offputting for my personal taste.

    Was interested to see you gave it a shot on Linux. I know there are a bazzillion flavours to try, but give Sabayon a try sometime if not having success with Ubuntu / Mint.

  14. Roger B
    Stop

    Let's build a spec?

    Slightly off topic, but, as it is apparently impossible a manufacturer to put together a machine that would please the fussy nature of Register readers, how about we put together our laptop wish list covering everything from screen type/resolution, keyboard layout, ports, case material, battery size/capacity, OS cpu, memory etct etc and whatever else we think we need, send it off to the big manufacturers and see who builds it? or prices it up at least. Pipe dreams no doubt, but, could be fun?

    Unless of course we end up with some 24GB, i7, 4K res screen, mercury cased, 10 hour battery life freak that costs us £10,000

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Let's build a spec?

      As indicated in another post, I think for me a Chromebook Pixel with a decent size SSD, >= 8 GB RAM, 3 or 4g built in + USB3 would do the job. It's already got a 3:2 ratio retina-style screen, is very well built, reasonably fast, for me it's almost there, really.

      I believe you can't install Windows on it but pretty much any Linux. Kinda like that, too.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Let's build a spec?

          "Expecting a "retina display" for the money is just showing a failure to understand basic economics."

          Huh? Who said they were expecting a retina screen. People were mainly asking for 16:10 or taller. I merely pointed out that I like the Pixel and the reasons include it being 3:2 and having a retina screen. And as for pricing: The Chromebook Pixel and the laptop reviewed here both cost around the same so a retina screen is not unthinkable. But the PC reviewed here is boring anyway, I much preferred the off-topic forum posts discussing alternatives, complaining about 16:9 and suggesting we get a Reg Spec.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Let's build a spec?

        If you want a Macbook Pro, why not get one?

        The nearest equivalent Macbook to the Pixel is around the £1500 mark, and I suspect that if Google added all the things you want to the Pixel, including the much bigger battery that it needs, that's what it would cost. The three things that put me off the Pixel were lack of proper Ethernet (what's the point of having a fast cpu if you can't transfer your big files quickly in the home environment), lack of SSD and, above all, short battery life.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Let's build a spec?

          Well, I've had an Apple once and while traveling the charger died on me. In a hurry I was unable to buy a cheaper knock-off on eBay so had to purchase from an Apple partner or Apple store and they all wanted EUR 89. Which I paid and then I promised myself to never ever buy Apple again. I had expected perhaps EUR 49 (incidentally, I see a Pixel charger costs £49).

          To be fair, I might have a harder time even finding a (non-online) shop that sells a Pixel charger if the same thing happened to me with it.

          Anyway, the next Chromebook Pixel is likely to be Haswell which should improve battery life a bit and I find that I'm actually ok even with the ~3h I get out of my current laptop since I'm not usually far from a socket. What does bother me the more I think about it is that it's probably gonna stay on 4 GB. That's not really good enough and I read up on it, both the SSD and the RAM are soldered onto the mainboard. Perhaps I'll have to get that Macbook Pro in the end...

    2. ElReg!comments!Pierre
      Unhappy

      Re: Let's build a spec?

      > how about we put together our laptop wish list

      That will give you one spec per commentard. No big manufacturer will build a one-of-a-kind laptop for a reasonable price.

    3. Nat C.

      Re: Let's build a spec?

      I expect Falcon Northwest might be up to the task...

      http://www.falcon-nw.com/

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Let's build a spec?

        Hardly. It's 16:9 just like the rest of 'em.

    4. Tweetiepooh

      Re: Let's build a spec?

      I like the 3 button "mouse" on ThinkPads as it helps using Linux and doesn't detract from Windows.

      Like others I'd prefer 16:10 (or even 4:3) on the screen. I want vertical height more than long horizontal lines.

      Other bits I'm more flexible on depending on who the beastie is for. I'd want Linux on there for the children as it gives them what they need and stops them trying to install "stuff" from their mates. And for the most part it needs to be fairly robust and easy to maintain. Superfast, ultra high graphics and wonder sound aren't really needed for a family workhorse that mostly gets used for email and watching YouTube.

    5. jason 7

      Re: Let's build a spec?

      Errrm I think we'd end up with ...a Homer!

  15. Tim 11

    B&O speakers???

    I hope their laptops are better than their supposed hi-fi. I think I'd rather have B&Q speakers :-)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: B&O speakers???

      Hah! I read that as B&Q too...I opened the article mainly to see the nail-ends protruding from the case.

  16. Nigel 11

    Oh.

    Looking good, right up to the price tag.

  17. Dom 3

    Cheap!

    It's only 240 quid more than a B&O cordless telephone (http://www.bostpauls.co.uk/products/telephones/beocom-2/ if you don't believe me) so I hereby declare it a bargain!

  18. ecofeco Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Nvidia

    See, that's where I stop reading.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Awesome stickers!

    Thanks for sticking those four gharishly colourful stickers on the front of it, Asus! How am I to know the laptop comes with an HDMI port, if I don't have a naff sticker with HDMI written on it staring me in the face when I look down? Thanks to your dilligence in sticker-application, I can also sleep easy knowing it's Energy Star approved, and show off to everyone else in the coffee-shop that I'm using an Nvidia GPU and Intel CPU! Woo!

    1. jason 7

      Re: Awesome stickers!

      Yes I really don't know why they have to put those on there. I peel them off my machines from new.

      Awful legacy policies I guess.

  20. Kubla Cant Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    A woofer in a tweeter's clothing

    To my mind, the whole B&O sound system+woofer thing is utterly stupid.

    If I'm at home, I don't want to watch video or listen to audio on a laptop. It's too small for video and too inconvenient for music. I have dedicated appliances that do the job properly.

    If I'm travelling, then I might use the laptop for entertainment. But how do I carry the stupid woofer around? Too many portables are already compromised by a brick of a power supply that makes them less portable than they at first appear. The woofer with this one is going to make a very nasty bulge in your laptop case. You could leave it at home, of course, at which point the machine becomes just another laptop with tinny speakers.

  21. AlexS

    Apple Crumble

    Guess the reviewer gave up when he couldn't smell Steve Job's armpits within the box.

  22. Christian Berger

    From what I've seen so far

    Of course they won't want it back. It's got a shiny display (that's the point where people usually stop reading), it's got crapware on it, and there is no hint that it's any better than the usual Asus quality, where your product might already be broken when it arrives.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: From what I've seen so far

      You may be right, but my experience with Asus is the reverse - that if you buy their mid range to upper range stuff it is pretty good. The Transformers are very solid tablets, I have beaten the life out of an N56V and it is still in perfect working order and used about 6 hours a day despite having worn the labels off three of the keys, and I have just passed on down one of their monitors to replace a newer one from another rmanufacturer which was well past its best before.

      Of course, if you buy the bargain basement stuff you get the usual basement standards, but the price ticket is usually a sufficient indicator.

  23. Zot

    I stopped reading when...

    ...I saw 'Windows 8.'

    A track pad and Windows 8? - A hideous mixup of ideas right there.

    It's a nice spec though... I don't want one.

  24. Phil W

    Missing ports

    Where is the BNC 10BASE2 ThinEthernet connector? How am I supposed to connect this to my network!?!

  25. WereWoof

    No token ring?

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Excuse me, but.. no DECNET?

    How exactly am I supposed to integrate this into my VAX/VMS infrastructure?

  27. Gary Bickford

    Try it with a Linux distro - in fact try _every_ review model with a linux distro

    Since the majority of El Reg's readers are non-windows, non-mac users, this fine establishment would be doing the world a great service to just plug in a live DVD or two (maybe even a PCBSD DVD?) and see how it works on all these new machines - nothing fancy, just see if it runs normal stuff without tweaking or resorting to geekly file edits. This would provide useful information to us, the great unwashed, who may be ready to buy a new machine, and would also send a useful message to vendors, suggesting that they do that themselves before releasing to the public. This will become increasingly useful as the world continues to move beyond MS-WIndowism.

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