This slim touchscreen laptop has plenty of features but minimal performance
15.6 in 1,366×768 display, 2.1kg, 1.4GHz Intel Core i3-2365M, 4.00GB RAM, 500GB disk, Windows 8
The Asus VivoBook S500CA is an attractive laptop with a large, glossy 15.6in widescreen display. It’s one of the largest laptops in the VivoBook range, but it shares the same sleek design and metallic and black finish as the other VivoBook models we’ve reviewed.
The touchscreen display, although relatively large, has a standard laptop resolution of 1,366×768. This obviously lacks the detail of a 1080p screen, which would work well at this size, but Windows 8 still looks good on this many pixels. The lower resolution makes icons slightly larger at Windows’ default settings, which actually makes it easier to use the touchscreen in desktop mode as well as on the Start Screen interface.
The screen’s glossy finish makes colours look vivid, but how bright the large screen appears varies depending on viewing angle; at the wrong angle, the bottom of the screen can appear to be much darker than the top. Fortunately, there’s plenty of scope to adjust the viewing angle thanks to a generous amount of screen tilt. The screen is also rather reflective, and its size makes this more of a problem than on smaller laptops in the VivoBook range; there’s more screen to pick up sources of illumination behind you as you work, and we got a very clear view of the office strip-lighting on the ceiling behind us when we would rather have seen more of our web browser.
Unlike smaller laptops in the VivoBook range, the S500CA has a numeric keypad, although its skinny keys aren’t particularly easy to hit accurately. The Chiclet-style keyboard is comfortable to use, even though the flat keys don’t have a great deal of travel. We could touch-type accurately on the keyboard, but the addition of the number pad means that the large touchpad positioned under the space bar is set towards the right of the broad wrist rest. There’s still plenty of room for your hands, though, and we didn’t find ourselves accidentally brushing the touchpad while we typed.
In terms of performance, the laptop’s ageing Sandy Bridge Intel Core i3-2365M processor doesn’t stand up to well when compared with more recent Ivy Bridge Core i3 chips, such as the Core i3-3217U found in the i3 version of the VivoBook S400. The S500 managed an overall score of just 24 in our application benchmarks and felt a little sluggish when we had lots of tabs and a few applications open. This is really a basic laptop for web browsing, document creation and media consumption, rather than a powerhouse desktop replacement. The laptop’s battery lasted for just under six hours in our light usage test, which is fairly average and well behind the eight-hours-plus of the latest models.
The S500CA’s on-chip Intel HD Graphics 3000 graphics chipset isn’t much cop, either – we couldn’t get a playable frame rate in our Dirt Showdown test even by dropping all the settings to minimum, so you can rule out playing modern 3D games.
There are three USB ports, one of them USB3, a headset port which can also take a 3.5mm stereo connection and Gigabit Ethernet. There’s a 500GB hard disk and SDXC card reader, but no disc drive. There are also DVI and HDMI graphics outputs, so you can easily connect the laptop to an external monitor, home cinema projector or TV without needing an adaptor. The integrated speaker is much better than that found on most laptops, with very little mid-range muddiness and plenty of volume, although there’s still not much bass.
Although it’s fairly light and has a great touchscreen, plus is very cheap at under £500, the S500CA is significantly underpowered compared to its non-touhscreen rivals. One alternative is the smaller Asus VivoBook S400CA, which is significantly more powerful.
|Processor||Intel Core i3-2365M|
|Processor clock speed||1.4GHz|
|Memory slots free||0|
|Sound||Intel HD Audio|
|Pointing device||touchpad and touchscreen|
|Viewable size||15.6 in|
|Graphics Processor||Intel HD Graphics 3000|
|Graphics/video ports||HDMI, VGA|
|Total storage capacity||500GB|
|Optical drive type||none|
Ports and Expansion
|Wired network ports||1x 10/100/1000|
|Wireless networking support||802.11n|
|PC Card slots||none|
|Supported memory cards||SDXC|
|Other ports||3.5mm headset port|
|Operating system||Windows 8|
|Operating system restore option||restore partition|
|Warranty||one year RTB|