Software, Factory Restore, OS Install
While some companies think that loading bloat and sometimes spyware onto a laptop is in the customer’s best interest, Asus does not make any such assumptions. Instead, Asus loads the minimum software (OS and drivers), and a few extra pieces of software to give it some needed functionality, and leaves the rest of the software is on extra CDs which the customer can install on their own if they choose to (like the MS Works and Medi@ Show).
At the most basic factory installation, the A7J comes with Windows XP Home, all the needed drivers, Power4Gear, Splendid Video, Asus DVD, and Norton Internet Security.
For some reason, the A7J CD does not come with a copy of the fantastic NB Probe software that was bundled with the W5F. Luckily you can download a copy from the W5F download page and install it on the A7J without a problem (direct download here).
There is a piece of software called Power4 Phone on the A7J which uses a single interface to dial using either the modem or by using Skype. The tool allows you to save numbers so you can quickly dial whomever you want easily.
Restoring the A7J and Rolling your Own
Sometimes we need to restore a laptop back to its original configuration. In this “test” we use the CDs provided by Asus and follow their reinstallation procedure. The factory install comes on two CDs, the first of which you boot with to begin. You will also need the driver CD handy. I timed this whole process and it took 1 hour and 17 minutes to have the A7J back to “normal”.
A nice feature about the factory restore procedure is that it can restore to just the boot/OS partition, or you can have it format both partitions. Since many users like to keep their data on a second partition, it’s really smart of Asus to give the user the option of choosing which partitions to format during the reinstall.
The first thing I do with any preconfigured system is format it and install my own copy of Windows XP Pro. I just feel more secure and more in control knowing exactly what software and drivers I load onto a new system. So we will test the A7J by loading on WinXP Pro and attempt to reinstall the needed drivers. The whole procedure went smoothly without any problems and the included driver CD was sufficient to get the A7J up and running. You may also want to install some additional software like Norton Internet Security (the A7J comes with a 90-day trial), Asus DVD, and the bundled copy of Nero.