We are using touchscreen technology everywhere. Windows 8 is not a new thing to us anymore. But what is new to us is, a touchscreen notebook with an inexpensive price tag where we can enjoy windows 8 and its true potential. With the new Asus VivoBook Q301LA, we are able to experience everything we were looking for without worrying about the price. If you want something stylish, something you can easily carry, something with decent specs, you must consider this new 13.3 inch touchscreen notebook. It not only has a good price and stylish design, but also has the latest Haswell technology of Intel with a 4th Generation Intel Core i5-4200U processor combined with Asus splendid technology which will ensure you powerful mobile computing experience. It also comes with Intel HD 4400 graphics (good for enjoying some low-end gaming), a commonly used 4GB DDR3 RAM and 500GB internal storage. This Asus Q301LA notebook is actually the same as the S301LA, with the Q model being sold only in some selected regions, where S model is widely available all over the world with a price tag of around $600.
Now, the question may come to your mind if this notebook worth looking at and eventually buying? Well, we can assure you that, the answer to your question lies within the review.
- Brand: Asus
- Model: Q301LA / S301LA
- Screen Size: 13.3″ 16:9 HD
- Screen Resolution: 1366×768
- Screen Type: Multi-touch supported touchscreen with a glossy coat
- Processor: Intel Core i5-4200U 4th Gen. Dual-Core 1.6-2.6GHz 3MB Cache
- Graphics: Intel HD 4400 Integrated
- RAM: 4GB DDR3L 1600 MHz SDRAM
- Storage: 500GB HDD
- Input: Keyboard without Numeric Pad, Multi-Touch Touchpad with Integrated Buttons
- Speakers: SonicMaster Stereo Speakers
- Cameras: 1.0MP HD Web Camera
- Wi-Fi: 802.11N
- Bluetooth: Yes
- Ethernet LAN: Yes
- USB: 2 x USB 2.0 + 1 x USB 3.0
- Video Ports: 1 x HDMI
- Media Card Reader: 2 -in-1 card reader (SD/ SDHC)
- Battery: 2Cells 5186 mAh 38 Whrs
- Weight: 3.9 pounds / 1.75 kg
- Dimension: 330 x 233 x 21 mm (12.9″ x 9.1″ x 0.8″) (W x D x H)
- Operating System: Windows 8
- Warranty: 1 to 2 Years (*different by country)
- Base Price: $600
Exterior and Design
The Asus Q301LA is a symbol of balanced style, simplicity and comfort. It has an aluminum textured metal surface that gives both high durability and elegant premium look. It has a weight of 3.9 pounds, which is not the lightest 13.3 inch notebook available, but still it gives considerable good mobility. Looking at the shape and size, this notebook has a thickness of 0.8” which is the average thickness of an Ultrabook and can slip easily into almost any backpack. The edges of this notebook are also rounded as it was inspired by book binding, made it comfortable to hold in hand with good grip and carry around.
Though most of the exterior and interior parts are covered with aluminum, the underbelly part of the notebook remained made of plastic. Which can be opened without voiding warranty if you can take care of the 10 screws carefully whom hold it in place, and that will allow you to access the internals, in a situation where you need to upgrade.
Now if you open the lid and notice the interior, as mentioned earlier, it is also brushed with silver-colored metal which provides a good contrast over the black keyboard. The palm-rest is relaxing and comfortable since it has good space, especially for someone who plans to use the notebook hours in a row. The power button is placed on the top-left corner with Power, Caps and Wi-Fi LEDs, and rest status LEDs are to be found on the front edge towards the right.
Although we do not have a lot to complain about this notebook considering the looks, build quality, shape or weight. Definitely there are thinner, lighter and better looking notebooks available on the market. But considering what it has inside and the price, it has the best possible combination of power and beauty in this price range.
Let’s give attention to the screen. At first glance, you will notice nothing special, but rather a common generic TFT display and no IPS support. If you care about viewing angles, non glare polished finish, and other premium features of the screen, this notebook surely won’t be the perfect choice for you. But for average regular users who are hoping for a decent screen without spending loads of money, this is a perfect choice.
The Asus Q301LA notebook has a 13.3 inch 16:9 HD TN panel supported display with 1366 x 766 default resolution. The screen supports Asus exclusive splendid technology that allows you to tune the display properties as necessary to get the ideal color, contrast and brightness combination for movies, photos or other applications you are currently using. Basically splendid technology offers four modes to satisfy different viewing conditions, so depending on personal choice, situation and environment you can select the one you need with a single touch.
You also shouldn’t forget that the screen has fully functional multi-touch support. With all-glass panels, this notebook has impressive, forthcoming and accurate touchscreen where you can swipe, scroll and perform other gestures quickly and quietly. The screen has faster response than other regular touch panels and when you use it, you surely will be able to feel the difference. Moreover, this touchscreen feature actuators which can detect the touch of as small as 6mm in size and ensure you a better touch experience, especially when you are drawing or handwriting as high sensitive actuators provide more accurate finger precision.
However, the display will not be a problem to you as long you are keeping it on a desk or staying inside. Otherwise, screen reflection is going to annoy you since it is too noticeable when you are using the notebook outdoor as there is a reflective glass panel covering the screen. Also, when you are lying on a bed or couch, it will be hard to adjust the vertical viewing angle as it is not possible to completely lean back the display.
If anything made this notebook complete, it is the sound system. As an Ultrabook, Asus Q301LA has exceptionally good audio features. There is a pair of stereo speakers branded by Altec Lansing along with SonicMaster technology.
To elaborate, it has bigger speakers than usual, which ensure enough space for resonance chambers and that provides surround sound, richer bass and powerful output over a wide range. It also comes with an Asus AudioWizard contains five modes you can choose, depending on your preferences and listening environment and it is so user-friendly and flexible that you can access to any desired content and customize the sound as you like quickly and easily in a second.
To be honest, there is nothing to complain about the audio of this notebook. It has the perfect hardware and software combination to ensure an ultimate audio experience.
Keyboard and Touchpad
When it comes to checking the keyboard out, as usual, this 13.3 incher comes with a chiclet keyboard that has no numeric pad on the right. The keys are larger than usual and have well space between them, so even if we press on the edge, they take the commands flawlessly. With the accurate layout and resistance to dust and debris, there are only few possible drawbacks this keyboard has and they are: no backlit system and no dedicated button for Home, End, Page Up and Page Down. And since you have to press tiny FN and the arrow keys for them, sometimes it will be very annoying.
On the other hand, with smart gesture technology the touchpad is reliable as a mouse and gives perfect response even when you touch slightly with your fingertip. It supports all possible gestures Windows 8 can offer. Though for someone, who is familiar with regular touchpad will find it over-sensitive, but it is not a problem since you can tweak them with certain software.
Considering the ports and connections, Asus Q301LA has everything you expect from a notebook of its kind. There are three USB ports, HDMI output, a card reader, an Ethernet connector, LAN port, Wireless and Bluetooth. So far you will only miss the VGA port which can be recovered with an adapter.
Bluetooth works as expected and wireless works great at 10-15 feet away from the router, but the performance falls dramatically when the distance is more than 20 feet and obstacles are involved.
Looking at the specs, this part of the notebook may not look good since it has only 2 cell 38 Wh non removable battery. But you don’t have to worry too much about it, since this machine is running on the 4th Gen Hashwell processor and they are well-known for their power efficiency. At 50% sound volume and screen brightness with Wi-Fi on, we were able to run it roughly five hours while browsing, listening to music and watching HD videos.
Considering all the tests, the performance of this notebook is somewhat similar to all other Ultrabooks powered by Hashwell processors.
As being said, Asus Q301LA has the latest 4th generation Intel core i5 ULV (ultra low voltage) processor that clocked around at 1.6GHz optimized with Turbo 2.0 Boost technology, 4GB of DDR3 1600MHz Ram, 500GB hard drive and integrated Intel HD 4400 Graphics, which made it a potential powerhouse.
It runs fairly and quite almost all the time, except for some time when you push it to the limit. It has a fan inside which spin at different RPM depends on what you are doing on the notebook and you can feel the difference. The only drawback of ventilation system is that it inhale air from the bottom and then blows toward the user from the grills below the screen.
However, beside the 5400 RPM hard drives, another thing that bottlenecks overall performance is, the embedded graphics and that you can’t upgrade. Speaking of upgrades, all you can do is add more RAM and replace the hard drive with a SSD. Moreover, if you like small gaming on the notebook, there is a version of Asus S301 with dedicated AMD Radeon graphics while other specs are identical.
- Comfortable shape
- Good looks
- Good combination of hardware
- Runs cool and quiet
- Sound system
- Big Keyboard
- Smooth Touchpad
- Small and non removable battery
- Screen without IPS support
- Low wireless range
- No optical drive
- Little heavy for Ultrabook
Reviewing all the aspects, the Asus Q301LA is one of the best 13.3 inch notebooks currently available, if not the best. Like some other premium Ultrabooks, it doesn’t have all those fancy features like backlit keyboard, SSD, IPS screen or not as light and thin as them. But if you want an elegant notebook with decent configuration and don’t want to waste loads of money on a fancy Ultrabook, The Asus VivoBook Q301LA is for sure the one you are looking for.