With an elegant design, solid performance and an array of useful expansion ports, the N73Jn is an attractive choice, but it can't quite match Acer's 8943G for value
17.3 in 1,600×900 display, 3.4kg, 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-520M, 4.00GB RAM, 640GB disk, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
We were immediately impressed by the N73Jn’s design, which is less surprising when you consider that Asus has teamed up with audiophile favourites Bang & Olufsen. A silver, metallic strip along the edge of the lid mirrors a similar strip along the side of the case, so that when you open the lid the two lines form a pleasant curve. Opening the lid also reveals a large, silver speaker grille, as well as a brushed-metal wrist-rest and a tasteful absence of garish LED indicators or shortcut buttons.
Along with the attractive design comes an impressive specification: there’s an Intel Core i5 520M processor, twin 320GB hard disks, a dedicated Nvidia graphics card and a Blu-ray drive. Our only disappointment was the 17.3in screen’s 1,600×900 resolution: for this price we’d have preferred Full HD (1,920×1,080).
We found the display bright and colourful, with an even backlight, although a mild blue cast made flesh tones seem a bit washed out. Vertical viewing angles are tight and, with a glossy finish on the screen, the usual caveat applies: you have to avoid reflections from overhead lights. At the sweet spot however, image quality was great, and we doubt most people will miss having a Full HD resolution on a screen this size.
You can output video to a larger screen via the HDMI port, or send both audio and video to an AV amplifier. Some may appreciate the S/PDIF output shared with the headphone socket, which allows you to output digital surround-sound audio to an older hi-fi system without HDMI. There are also FireWire, eSATA and four USB ports: the first we’ve seen on a laptop to support the new USB3 standard.
You may not need to use external speakers since the N73Jn’s built-in woofers are the meatiest, loudest notebook speakers we’ve come across. Complicated bass rhythms, can cause them to distort, but acoustic and pop music are handled well, and voices and environmental sounds are clear and loud.
You could argue that the branded speakers and design have reduced the N73Jn’s value for money: other laptops at this price have Core i7 processors and better graphics cards. Performance is still excellent, with a score of 92 overall in our Windows benchmarks, and a score of 30fps in Call of Duty 4 means you’ll be able to play most games as long as you’re willing to compromise on some graphical effects.
It’s worth pointing out that the N73Jn supports Nvidia Optimus, which switches between the dedicated graphics card and the Core i5’s built-in graphics processor depending on whether you need 3D performance or long battery life. Unlike ATI’s similar technology, you’re not able to choose which processor to use, and in practice it’s not as impressive either: the N73Jn managed just over three hours in our light-usage test, compared to the five-plus hours managed by Acer’s Aspire 8943G.
In fact, Acer’s Aspire 8943G causes the N73Jn a few problems as it has a Full HD screen and a more powerful graphics card, yet costs the same. However, it isn’t as stylish, nor does it have the N73Jn’s great speakers or two-year warranty. Both laptops have their strengths, and we wouldn’t blame anyone for opting for the N73Jn, but the 8943G is narrowly the better value of the two.
|Processor||Intel Core i5-520M|
|Processor clock speed||2.4GHz|
|Memory slots free||0|
|Sound||Realtek HD Audio|
|Viewable size||17.3 in|
|Graphics Processor||Nvidia GeForce GT 335M|
|Graphics/video ports||VGA, HDMI|
|Total storage capacity||640GB|
|Optical drive type||DVD+/-RW +/-DL BD-ROM|
Ports and Expansion
|Wired network ports||1x 10/100/1000|
|Wireless networking support||802.11b/g/n|
|PC Card slots||none|
|Supported memory cards||SD, MMC, Memory Stick Pro, xD|
|Other ports||eSATA (shared with USB socket), minijack audio output/S/PDIF (shared), minijack microphone input|
|Operating system||Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit|
|Operating system restore option||backup and recovery software|
|Software included||Microsoft Office 2010 Starter, CyberLink Blu-ray Suite 6|
|Warranty||two years RTB|