January 24, 2013
- Affordable price
- Stylish aluminum design
- Solid performance
- Below average battery life
- Lacking display quality
The Asus VivoBook S400CA is a Windows 8 touch screen ultraportable laptop that offers a strong feature set and solid performance all without a high price. It does lack in battery life and overall display quality, but for the money, it is still a good value.
The design of the Asus S400CA looks a lot more expensive than it really is. The top of the lid has a brushed black aluminum finish and the keyboard deck is made of silver aluminum. We really appreciate Asus skipping the cheap plastic and going for aluminum. The laptop's underside has a soft-touch plastic that provides a good gripping surface. It all looks really nice together especially for the low price. The laptop measures 13.3 x 9.4 x 0.8-inches (wdh) and weighs 4.4-pounds, so it's definitely thin and lightweight for maximum portability.
One thing missing is a backlight for the keyboard, which is a must in our opinion regardless of the laptop's cost. The chiclet-style keyboard does have adequately sized and placed keys and gave adequate feedback. We did notice that Asus chose to not taper the edge of the keyboard deck around the keyboard, which caused our fingers to scrape the deck's metal occasionally when hitting a key around the edge of the keyboard.
The touch pad is nicely sized sized and offers a click zone instead of discrete buttons. The pad seemed accurate and responsive much to our delight.
The 14-inch display has a 1366 x 768-pixel resolution, but we felt that it lacks in terms of color accuracy and some vividness. While we can understand Asus not using the best display to keep the price down, but we can definitely notice a lack of some quality. The touch screen aspect, however, worked well and was also responsive. The touch screen is a 10-point capacitive display and as a result, the screen is very glossy which leads to a lot of reflections.
For ports, the Asus VivoBook S400CA offers two USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0 port, HDMI-out, VGA-out, a headphone/microphone combination jack, Ethernet and an SD card reader. There is also 802.11n wireless networking. It would have been nice to get one less USB 2.0 port and one more 3.0 port, but perhaps that's asking for too much considering the price.
Our review unit had a configuration that included an Intel Core i5-3317U (1.7GHz) CPU, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB 5400RPM hard drive, a 24GB solid-state drive and integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics. It was nice to see a solid-state drive because that really helps to boost start up times. In a PCMark 7 benchmark, the S400CA earned a score of 3,010, which is about right in the middle of the 14-inch ultraportable category. Real-world tests yielded no issues streaming HD video while multitasking or surfing the Web. Considering the money, this laptop gives you great performance and value.
Battery life clocks in at a below-average 4-hours. This is about an hour less than the category average.
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