The 15.6-inch Asus S500CA-SI30401U and S500CA-HCL1002H VivoBook-series laptops offers a lot of features and high build quality for only $430 and $400, respectively. Hardware highlights are multi-touch-screen capability, the Intel Core i3 processor on the SI30401U and Pentium on the HCL1002H, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB hard disk, and sleek design. The notebooks have a 0.9-inch thin chassis (down from usual aprox. 1.3″) made of brushed aluminum, with a shape similar to the Apple MacBook Air. The keyboard deck is done up in silver color, while the lid is dark gray. The keyboard buttons are black, but backlight for them is not present. A single-piece trackpad (with integrated “mouse” buttons) accompanies the keyboard. The whole packages weigh 4.6 pounds, so the S500CA-SI30401U and S500CA-HCL1002H are one of the lightest 15.6-inchers on the market. They usually weigh about 5.3-5.5 pounds. As a trade-off, the Asus duo doesn’t feature a built-in optical disc.
The included 3rd Generation Intel Core i3-3217U and the Intel Pentium 2117U, both with dual cores and 1.8GHz clock speed, aren’t anything special, but they can juggle daily tasks easily. The i3 is somewhat faster, primarily thanks to larger cache of 3MB versus 2MB and included HyperThreading technology, which allows two computing threads per core. Supplied 4GB of RAM is enough for multitasking in home and office scenarios and the 500GB HDD capacity is average for the category. You’ll be hardly able to play any serious 3D rendering game via the integrated Intel HD 4000 GPU, but it can manage the 1366-by-768 display easily. We have no info on battery life. The battery capacity of 44WHr doesn’t promise a long run time between charges. Judging from the specifications, our estimation is more than four hours with light web use with Wi-Fi turned on on both models.
These modesl have all the necessary ports and slots. They sport three USB connectors, HDMI output, VGA output, an SD card reader, and combo audio jack for headphones and microphone. For connection to the outside world, there are Wi-Fi and Ethernet LAN.
Regarding alternatives, there are many touch-enabled standard-size laptops on the market, but they’re usually more than $500, so the VivoBook’s 430- and 400-dollar price tags are obviously their best selling points. An interesting alternative from the VivoBook series itself is the 13.3-inch Q301LA-BHI5T02 with a newer and faster CPU and better integrated graphics.