Hands-on with Asus's 18.4" Gaming Laptop and New Netbooks


Asus is here in full force at CES, showing off their vast selection of netbooks and notebooks. We darted straight to the systems that featured the most updates to existing lineups, including the 1000HE, S121, and 101H tablet. We also got our hands on Asus's newly announced W90Vp gigantic gaming laptop. 18.4 inches comes close to Dell and HP's record of 20.1 inches in their previous lap crushers, and is still too unwieldy, in our opinion. Still, we admire the effort and can't help but be awed by the alleged 15000+ 3DMark 2006 score in this "portable" beast.

First up is the 1000HE, which shows off the new chicklet keyboard design (all the rage these days). Aside from having more comfortable keys, another big change is the relocation of the right-side Shift key to a more conventional location. On previous Asus Eee PCs, the Shift key was located in an awkward spot on the right side of the directional keys. Glad to see that this has been rectified.

Additionally, the 1000HE features an upgraded 6-cell Lithium Ion battery. The new battery is more dense than the previous model, and takes up less physical space while actually providing more juice. Asus's internal testing (which you should take with a grain of salt) rates the battery at 9.5 hours.

Not much information was given on the sleek-looking 101H netbook, except that it's clearly a 10" tablet/netbook hybrid with a swivel touchscreen, powered by an N270 Atom processor. The Asus rep we talked to revealed that the screen is multi-touch and can be used with either your fingers or an included stylus (indicating that it uses IR touchscreen technology). It'll also have an optional TV tuner option.

The S121 notebook on display falls outside the netbook category at 12.1 inches, even though its powered by an Atom processor. It's 1 inch thick, weighs in at 3 pounds, and will start at $1649. The reason for the high price? It's equipped with a sizable 512GB SSD drive, the largest for a notebook in this category. A 128GB drive option will also be available, and drops the price down to $1099.

One interesting tidbit about the S121 is that it uses at 4-cell Lithium Polymer battery, which is rated for 8 hours of use. Lithium Polymer is the kind of battery that the new 17" Macbook Pros utilze for their ability to be molded in any shape. In this case, the removable battery is crafted to be ultra thin.

Finally, we handled the W90Vp 18.4" gaming laptop. Its size is matched by its heft-- this laptop is not meant for carrying around in your backpack. The listed specs indicated a Core 2 Duo processor, though we hope that a Core 2 Quad option will be available in the future. The particular mode on display was powered by Nvidia mobile graphics, but an ATI Crossfire option (using the newly announced 4870 mobility series) is also in the cards.

Other features we noticed: a full sized keyboard with numpad, 2 megapixel webcam, blu-ray drive, plenty of data ports, and Altec Lansing 5.1 surround sound (with speakers flanking all four sides).  No word on pricing just yet, but stay tuned!

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