The Asus VivoBook V500CA-DB71T ($779) is a desktop replacement laptop in the same chassis as an ultrabook. It’s somewhat thin, but doesn’t have the SSD or flash storage component to meet the ultrabook spec as dictated by Intel. If it came in a lot cheaper than an ultrabook we’d understand the appeal, but with what we have here, we can only state that the Asus V500CA-DB71T is a decent, tractable laptop with a few flaws that keep it from scoring higher. Depending on your pickiness, this could be a perfectly adequate laptop for you and your family.
Design and Features
The V500CA-DB71T is built into the same chassis as the Asus VivoBook S500CA-DS51t ($679) ultrabook and thus has identical external dimensions (0.8 by 15.1 by 10.5 inches, HWD). The V500CA-DB71T weighs 4.75 pounds, imperceptibly heavier than the previous Asus S500CA-DS51t. Both VivoBooks feature a 15.6-inch screen with a relatively low 1,366-by-768 resolution. The lid has a dark brushed metal finish, while the keyboard deck has a matte silver finish with contrasting black key caps on the chiclet style keyboard.
The keyboard is not backlit, in case that’s important to you. The keys are flat, with just enough texture to make them comfortable to use. However, there is a touch of keyboard flex when you press down hard on the keys in the middle of the keyboard. The one-piece trackpad has a line marking the left and right click areas, but in use we found ourselves right clicking more often that not. It’s more responsive to use the 10-point touch screen, which had no problems interpreting our intentions. The system has a full numeric keypad to the right, which are usable, though the keys are slightly narrower than the rest of the QWERTY keys. The spot where you’d normally see a clear key, there’s a hotkey for Asus’s VivoBook utility, which lets you switch energy usage modes, turn on/off the touchpad, change the audio/video profiles, play a tutorial, and access Acer’s Could storage services.
On the left of the system, you’ll find a pair of USB 2.0 ports, a Kensington lock port, SD card reader and a headset jack. On the right, you’ll find a single USB 3.0 port, HDMI, VGA, and Ethernet. All ports are full-sized, so you won’t need any adapters. This is more useful for consumers than other systems like the Dell XPS 12 ($1,199), which requires an adapter for VGA and HDMI. The internal components are a relatively speedy third-generation Intel Core i7-3537U processor, 8GB of memory, and a 500GB 5,400rpm SATA hard drive. Since the system lacks flash storage it doesn’t meet ultrabook specs. Even though the V500CA-DB71T doesn’t have flash storage, it will wake in about 3 to 4 seconds, though applications and the like will take longer to launch than on SSD-powered systems like the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11S ($999).
The 15.6-inch screen’s 1,366-by-768 resolution might be adequate for many people’s use, it also means that the screen’s pixels are larger than a similar 15.6-inch screen at 1,600 by 900 or 1,920 by 1,080 resolution. As a result, you may see banding in what should be smooth gradients in images, and some text can look fuzzy and a bit blocky. This is unfortunate, because 1,366 by 768 screens can look a lot smoother at 15 inches, like on the similarly priced Dell Inspiron 15z (I15Z-4801SLV) ($830). The built-in speakers as fine and can fill a moderately sized room with music or audio from videos.
The V500CA-DB71T comes relatively free from bloatware, at least from third-party sources. The system has quite a few pre-loaded programs from Microsoft (Skype, Fresh Paint, a few Xbox Games, and an ad for Office), Intel (McAfee Anti-Theft), and Asus (Tutorial, Wolrd Clock, VivoBook utility, Power4Gear, a product demo, and an installer program). The system comes with a one-year warranty, including one-year accidental damage, and a 30-day warranty against bad pixels on the display.
The V500CA-DB71T comes with an Intel Core i7 processor and 8GB of memory, which is a recipe for good multimedia benchmark scores, seen in the system’s Handbrake time and CineBench score. The system is able to handle recompression tasks well, the kind you start, leave for a bit, then come back to check your results after. Other tests like the day-to-day PCMark 7 score lag other systems by a bit. This is especially apparent when comparing to a system like the SSD-powered Dell XPS 12 or Lenovo Yoga 11S. This is due to the V500CA-DB71T’s relatively slow hard drive, which takes a bit to open files and perform file transfer duties. It’s not a deal breaker, but if you need everyday speed, then the SSD-powered ultrabooks and similar systems are a better choice. If you need multimedia power, then the V500CA-DB71T is right up your alley.
The V500CA-DB71T suffers a bit on the battery test compared with other systems, with only 4 hours 23 minutes. Last year, that would have been a decent if uninspiring score. However, today with the advent of fourth-generation Intel Core processors and their subsequent leap forward in power efficiency, four and a half hours seems short. Witness the eight-hour battery performance of the Dell XPS 12 and the Asus VivoBook V551LB-DB71T ($999.99). Sure, you’re saving over $200 by buying the V500CA-DB71T, but you’re getting so much less battery life, which is important if you compute away from power for extended periods of time.
The Asus VivoBook V500CA-DB71T is a perfectly adequate desktop replacement laptop. But on a feature-by-feature comparison, it is blown away by the current mainstream desktop replacement Editors’ Choice, the Asus VivoBook V551LB-DB71T , which has better 3D, faster benchmark scores overall, a larger hard drive, and over three more hours of battery life. You’ll probably be happy with the V500CA-DB71T if you buy one, however for less money the entry-level DTR, the Lenovo IdeaPad Z400 Touch ($700) gives you a backlit keyboard, optical drive, the same number of ports, slightly more battery life, and comparable or slightly better performance on the benchmarks tests.
|Processor Name||Intel Core i7-3537U|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 8|
|Graphics Card||Intel HD Graphics 4000|
|Networking Options||802.11n (2.4 GHz only)|
|Processor Speed||2.0 GHz|
|Screen Size||15.6 inches|
|Storage Capacity (as Tested)||500 GB|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc