A Lot of Laptop for a Thousand Dollars
The Asus N50Vn-A1B, at $949.99 barely squeezes into this category, but it is absolutely loaded at that price. A 2 Ghz Core 2 Duo processor, 4 GB of Ram, and dedicated 9650M GT graphics, with a whole gig of memory just for the graphics, are a lot to jam into a 1000 dollar notebook.
And you get more than parts that perform well. The N50 line includes features like a fingerprint reader and Asus ExpressGate. ExpressGate is a tiny Linux implementation with a few critical apps (IM tools, web browser, so on) that live in solid state storage on the motherboard. It can boot up in as little as 8 seconds. This allows you to rent a car online with the laptop balanced in one hand riding an airport conveyor belt, while your colleague is still waiting for Windows to finish loading. He’s also used up way more battery power firing up his whole laptop; your drives didn’t even turn on.
The N50 also has a great complement of ports on it. You’ve got all the basics: express card, 8-1 card reader, audio in/out, VGA, 3 USB ports, and an Ethernet port. But DVI is replaced with HDMI, the audio out is S/PDIF, there’s an IEEE 1394 and even an eSATA port. That eSATA point might be a big plus, since this machine is stuck with a 250GB hard drive.
Other than the smallish hard drive, another problem is the bloatware. Unfortunately, to keep the price down, manufactures accept money from software publishers to put trial versions of all kinds of software on their products. The problem is: the trial versions are so limited in functionality, and aggressive in pushing you to upgrade, that it amounts to having a system full of adware. Plan on spending an hour getting this stuff of your new system.
That, and the less than big hard drive, can be overlooked given everything else this system includes for under a grand. And while this price point doesn’t get you leather or brushed aluminum, the N50s are sharp enough lookers. The vertical grain in the plastic is reminiscent of brushed metal, but without looking like it is a cheap attempt at faking it.
If you would rather save on weight and size, this 14.1 inch N80 is a pound lighter. It drops the eSATA port, but you get an extra 2 USB ports and a CIR for a remote control.