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Asus L3800 - Getting acquainted
Laptop and gaming aren't always the two most common associations, however with more manufacturers putting emphasis on portable machines the standard in their performance has risen. At the end of August, ATI announced their latest mobile graphics unit which pushes the performance boat out further, blurring the line between mid-range desktop performance and high-end mobile performance.

AMD and Intel both produce parts for mobile computers, however it is no surprise that the vast majority of OEMs have gone with Intel's Pentium 3-M or Pentium 4-M for their portable platforms. Intel seem to have a great method of gaining support from these OEMs which, in the portable market is of greater importance than the desktop market - it's somewhat harder (if not impossible) to "home-build" your own laptop.

Asus is the largest of the Taiwanese manufacturers hardwarephiles have come to know of. Their motherboards are usually some of the top performing models in their market segment and they carry a reputation many companies envy. It is little surprise then, for a company that boasts annual revenues of $2 billion (USD) to branch out. Asus have a large range of notebooks which cater for a number users. We look at their top-of-range model, the L3 series.

Coming in at 326mm x 267mm x 42mm and weighing 3.2Kg the L3800 isn't the smallest or lightest of notebooks however it's being touted as a desktop replacement rather than a "lifestyle" notebook. It's physical size is dictated by the 15" active matrix colour TFT screen. The native resolution is 1400x1050 which might sound awkward however one soon gets used to it and realizes that it works well with the 15" panel.

     

With an all black exterior you might be forgiven for thinking it's a dull notebook, especially when you compare it again the aesthetics of certain Sony and Apple models. Due to the L3800 being a desktop replacement notebook, styling takes a back seat to power, features and performance.

Layout on a laptop is probably the single most important factor, since the user is being confined to a small space and good hardware layout allows you to get increased cooling efficiency and a better upgrade path. A big screen gives manufacturers a great excuse to fit a larger keyboard, which greatly helps typing. Asus have positioned the keyboard above the track pad and left ample room on each bottom corner for the user to rest their wrists.


The keyboard is fairly tactile (at least by notebook standards) and provides a satisfactory typing experience. The four button track pad is very useful since the two silver buttons act like the wheel on your typical desktop mouse. The large general purpose black buttons require a firm press by your thumb; however their size helps people with larger hands or longer fingers. The track pad is pressure sensitive so you can tap the surface to imitate a click on the left mouse button.

Also strategically positioned are 5 buttons to ease simple tasks. These are email, internet browser, programmable application, Power4Gear and on/off switch. We'll discuss Power4Gear later in this article. The top left hand corner holds the volume control which allows easy and quick regulation.


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