Asus X555LA review
Processor: Dual-core 1.9GHz Intel Core i3-4030U, RAM: 4GB, Size: 382x256x26mm, Weight: 2.3kg, Screen size: 15.6in, Screen resolution: 1,366x768, Graphics adaptor: Intel HD Graphics 4400, Total storage: 1TB hard disk
Sub-£400 laptops don't typically excel at specific tasks but are perfectly capable of basic web browsing, document editing and multimedia playback. The Asus X555LA is one such machine, with a reasonable set of specifications that should suit most everyday needs very nicely – exactly what you want from a laptop at this price.
Build quality is a mixed bag, which should come as no surprise to anyone that's used a budget Asus laptop in the last few years. The concentric circles surrounding the Asus badge on the lid is a nice touch, as is the lightly dotted texture on the silver keyboard tray, but it all feels distinctly cheap, with a lot of flex in the lid.
There's a fair amount of flex from the keyboard tray too but, it's nowhere near as bad as some of the finger trampolines that could be found on some of Asus' older laptops. We actually found ourselves building up quite a bit of speed on the black Chiclet keys. We had no problems with missed keystrokes and were also pleasantly surprised by how quiet the keyboard is. The touchpad is reasonably responsive too, although Windows 8 gestures such as pinch-to-zoom are a bit clunky and don't feel particularly precise. This isn't exactly out of the ordinary for a budget laptop though. The touchpad makes a loud and hollow-sounding noise when you click it, which could be irritating if you're working in a quiet place such as a library.
Ports and slots
Two USB3 ports on the left of the laptop and a third USB on the right, there should be ample space for peripherals and external storage. HDMI and VGA video outputs make it easy to hook up to a desktop monitor or office projector, and you also get a DVD-RW optical drive in addition to an SD card reader, so you'll be well served if you have a collection of movies or take a lot of photos. Finally, a single 3.5mm combined audio in and out jack is par for the course at this price.
The speakers are also exactly what we would expect from a budget laptop; they might be reasonably loud and there's a tiny hint of stereo separation from the two down-firing tweeters, but music sounds tinny and speech suffers too, somehow sounding significantly quieter than music at the same volume. You'll definitely want to use a pair of headphones with the X555LA. Continues on Page 2.