Usability, Size and Weight

Usability

Determining the usability of a laptop is a bit subjective as it is nearly all based on the reviewer’s personal experience. Whether you agree or disagree, the ultimate objective is to draw attention to design features that may affect, positively or negatively, a buyer’s opinion of a product.

Starting with the keyboard, I found the slight flexing not a problem even though my typing is heavy (I probably use more force than necessary, but I like to show those keys who’s boss!). One of the difficulties I had to overcome was the placement of the left CTRL key which was swapped for the Fn key. Initially I found this irritating, but after a day or two, I grew accustomed to it. I still don’t like the idea how Asus swapped the conventional layout of the CTRL key, but we all adapt.

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I find the Fn key is where the Ctrl key should be. A minor but perpetual annoyance to me. 🙂

Controlling onboard devices is done through the function keys. The only thing I would have liked to have seen is are dedicated Blue Tooth and WiFi buttons, instead controlling these two devices is done through cycling through onscreen options. Optionally you can choose to disable WiFi (including Blue Tooth) all together by using the dedicated WiFi On/Off switch. Changing power modes is easy thanks to the Power4Gear button and I think Asus is right on top of their game by making power-saving options easily accessible.

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Use the Power4Gear button to quickly switch between power modes.

Using the camera is easy thanks to the quick-access buttons along the side of the screen. With one touch of the button, the web camera software will launch, the + and – keys control your camera zoom, and the microphone button enables/mutes the integrated mic. The camera can also take a quick snapshot by hitting the camera button while the camera software is running.

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USB and other device ports are nicely located along the sides and back of the laptop. There are no connections along the front of the W5F which is what I prefer since cords connected on the front get in the way when the computer is on your lap.

The Asus W5F is a very quiet laptop. The noise of the keys is nearly silent with just soft clicking sounds, and the internal fan does not make much noise at all and may explain why the laptop gets so warm (slower fan = less heat exhaust). I managed to use this laptop while my wife slept and it didn’t wake her. The only time noise is an issue is when the DVD drive spins up, and depending on the surface the laptop is resting on the DVD can be pretty loud.

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In my experience I find that touch pads are not all built equally and some pads have poor tracking and skip around the screen when doing fine movements. The touch pad on the Asus W5F tracked very well without any skipping issues during the time I was testing it — I played a few hours of Solitaire during my visits with my in-laws and was pleased that I didn’t throw the laptop away in frustration.

Size and Weight

For an ultra-portable laptop, size and weight is its biggest feature, afterall what’s the point of an ultra-portable if it’s too heavy and cumbersome to bring with you? Here we measure the weight of the laptop without the battery, the battery itself, and the power adapter. In addition to the Asus W5F, we are also weighing the Compaq V2410 which is slightly bigger thanks to the 14.1″ screen. Here is how the weight and dimensions break down.

Asus W5F

Compaq V2410

Classification

12.1″ Ultra Portable

14″ Conventional

Laptop Body Only

Dimensions (L x D x H)

12.0″ x 8.9″ x 1.2″

13.0″ x 9.1″ x 1.38″

Weight

3.19 lbs.
1.45 kg

4.8 lbs.
2.18 kg

Battery

Dimensions (L x D x H)

8.1″ x 1.6″ x 0.79″

8.0″ x 1.9″ x 0.79″

Weight

0.72 lbs.
0.328 kg

0.63 lbs.
0.285 kg

Totals

Body + battery

3.92 lbs.
1.78 kg

5.43 lbs.
2.46 kg

Advertised Weight

3.53 lbs.
1.60 kg.

5.4 lbs.
2.45 kg

Power Adapter

Adapter Dimensions

4.133″ x 1.77″ x 1.18″

4.133″ x 1.77″ x 1.10″

Adapter Weight

0.83 lbs.
0.375 kg

0.88 lbs.
0.4 kg

To classify as an ultra-portable, a unit should be 4 lbs. or less and the Asus W5F fulfills this quite well despite having a heavier 6-cell battery (the 4-cell battery will be lighter). To get a sense of the relative weight, the Compaq V2410 in comparison feels heavy and bulky inside a bag even though it is just 1.5 lbs. heavier than the W5F.

For those who travel a lot, once you’ve experienced the joy of a light-weight laptop I doubt you will ever go back to anything bigger or heavier.

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