March 29, 2013
- Sharp design for an affordable price
- Accurate & responsive touch screen
- Solid performance
- Touch pad issues
- Below average battery life
- Keyboard needs some improvement
The ASUS VivoBook S500CA is a Windows 8 touch screen laptop that offers a stylish, portable design, a great-looking display and solid overall performance. It does suffer from below average battery life and an overly sensitive touch pad.
The design of the S500CA features a black brushed aluminum exterior and a soft-touch finish bottom. For a sub-$800 laptop, it really looks more like a $1000 laptop if you just look at the exterior. It measures 15.1 x 10.2 x 0.8-inches and weighs 4.8-pounds. It is both on the thin- and light-side compared to other Windows 8 15-inch laptops, so portability is definitely this laptop's strong suit.
Inside the lid, you'll find a silver keyboard deck with black keys that look very Apple MacBook Pro-esque. There's a numeric keypad to the right of the matte black island-style keyboard. The keys had some noticeable flexing and didn't offer as much of a click. There isn't any backlighting, so that was also disappointing.
The large touch pad matches the keyboard deck and looks very sleek. The integrated buttons offered a solid click and were very responsive. We did experience some issues with the touch pad when it thought our regular mouse movements were Windows 8 gestures. This occurred several times while using the laptops and our only remedy for this problem was to disable the Windows 8 gestures. Perhaps a driver update will be required in the future to fix this problem.
The VivoBook S500CA's 15.6-inch display is LED-backlit and has a resolution of 1366 x 768-pixels. We found the display to be bright and able to display colors with good accuracy while watching HD videos. The display is glossy, so reflections are a problem, but viewing angles were above average, which is always a plus.
We found the touch screen aspect of the display to work very well. It was sensitive as well as responsive to our touch. This made navigating Windows 8 using the intuitive touch interface a very pleasing experience.
For ports, the ASUS VivoBook S500CA offers one USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, HDMI-out, VGA-out, Ethernet, a headphone/microphone combo jack and an SD card reader.
This laptop is powered by an Intel Core i5-3317U (1.7GHz) CPU, 6GB of RAM, a 500GB 5400RPM hard drive, a 24GB solid-state cache drive and integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics. The solid-state cache drive was a welcomed feature because budget-priced laptops typically don't include this feature. Having this extra drive really works to speed up boot-up times (about 15 seconds total) and file transfers.
A PCMark 7 benchmark returned a score of 2,530, which is right on par with the 15-inch Windows 8 category average. Real-world use was just as pleasing. Watching streaming HD videos while doing heavy multitasking was a breeze with the S500CA. The integrated graphics will easily handle typical PC tasks but not any heavy-duty 3D gaming.
Battery life clocks in below average at only 4.5-hours, which is short of the 6-hour category average.
For more Windows 8 notebook & Ultrabook reviews, visit our Notebook & Ultrabook Reviews page.