Introduction and Design
Sound. It seems to be one of the new battlefields on which notebook computers are fighting, which is odd, because audio quality has until recently been so rarely a central focus of notebook manufacturers. Today, the artillery is clearly placed. HP arrived first with Beats Audio, but others have responded, such as MSI with its Dynaudio branded laptops and now ASUS with this Bang & Olufsen tagged N55, which comes with an external subwoofer by default.
Yep, that’s right. It’s not a large subwoofer (that’s the point - it’s small enough to potentially be transported in same bag as the laptop), but clearly ASUS is taking sound seriously with this laptop. Yet there’s so much more to a laptop that its sound, and that’s particularly true with a system such as this. Everywhere you look, the N55’s specification scream performance. A Core i7 quad-core mobile processor is the heart of the machine, and snuggles up with an Nvidia GT 555M graphics processor. What else is there to be had? Have a look.
Introduction and Design
The last three years have been great for ultraportables and netbooks. Laptops with displays below fourteen inches in size have exploded in popularity thanks not only to Intel's Atom, but also a wide selection of Intel ultra-low voltage products. Many of the laptops that we've reviewed over the past year, such as the Lenovo IdeaPad U260 and the Alienware M11x, would have been impossible prior to the release of those processors.
Mainstream laptops have enjoyed less progress, however. The 15.6" laptop remains the most popular category with consumers, but while it has enjoyed a boost in performance with the release of the original Core i series processors, issues like battery life and graphics performance remained largely unaddressed. These mainstream laptops have continued to represent a major compromise, as they've been unable to provide great battery life but also (unless supplimented with a discrete GPU) lack the chops to play any but the most basic 3D games.
According to Intel, these flaws could soon be addressed. Intel's Sandy Bridge mobile processors are nothing short of the savior of mainstream laptops. These processors not only offer the typical improvements in speed but also drastically improved integrated graphics and provide much better battery life.
Or, at least, that's what Intel says. They've said such things in the past, however - Intel's IGPs have often promised more than they can deliver. But every piece of hardware deserves a fair shake, and now it's time for Intel's Sandy Bridge to step up to the plate, appearing today in the form of the ASUS K53E. Let's see what is under the hood.