Pre-installed software is generally the bane of  power users – the software is either poorly designed, or not useful. However, there are some gems to be found in the bin of coal as is the case with the Asus G51J. We’re going to take a look at which software is worth keeping and which is worth uninstalling with a vengeance.

We go through the pain of evaluating the bloat, so you don’t have to!

Useful applications:

There are only two applications you will want to keep installed on your G51J: Power 4 Gear (or Power 4 Gear Hybrid), and the Asus Hot Key utility.

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Image courtesy of Asus

Power 4 Gear allows you to quickly switch CPU power, LCD brightness, and other power options quickly either by pressing a function key, or by running the Power 4 Gear software. P4G gives you extra control over performance that is not included with Windows. You can reconfigure the profiles as you see fit.

Asus Hot Key utility is the tool that allows you to use the Fn key in Windows  – enable/disable WiFi, change your Power4Gear profile, or change your Splendid colour profile. Without it some of these features may not work.

Applications with Potential:

Applications that fall in this category may be useful, or appears to be questionable but could have some interesting uses.

Smart logon is an interesting concept which uses the web camera to perform face recognition in order to log you into the computer. Setting this up is really easy, but getting it to recognize your face is another issue. In our test, it correctly logged me in once, but in all subsequent login attempts it failed to recognize me (perhaps the lighting conditions or background objects were confusing the software?).

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Above: SmartLogon didn’t recognize me after all I did for it.

There are adjustments you can make to relax the security, but in my opinion it defeats the purpose. This is something you’ll want to try once or twice, but typing in a password will be ultimately faster.

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Above: Spledid video

Splendid video allows you to quickly change colour modes depending on your task (watching movies, doing work, etc.). It’s interesting tool, but you may find constantly switching profiles tedious.

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Above: Asus Data Security Manager

Asus Data Security Manager adds an extra layer of security to your personal files. You can define folders to protect with a master password (not sure if it’s encryption on individual files or just an OS level password protection). Thus even if someone manages to access your system using your login, your files are secure (or at least hidden) inside ADSM managed folders.

Questionable applications:

Not all the software installed on the G51J is useful – unfortunately this is majority of the preinstalled software too!

  • FancyStart: Allows you to customize the power-on graphic. I tried it and it doesn’t seem to work.
  • LifeFrame: Think of it like a clumsy Apple Photobooth app and a little too cute to be practical.
  • AI Recovery Burner: Helps you back up your Windows installation. The G51J already comes with a recovery disc and Windows 7 has a backup tool, so why duplicate functionality?
  • Control Deck: Gives you a fancy UI to control things like volume, LCD brightness and other settings. But most of these are mapped to Function keys, so why go through another piece of software to do this that’s slower?
  • Cyberlink Blu-Ray Disc Suite Power 2 Go: A tool to burn files to DVD or CD, but doesn’t do more useful things like create image files, burn image files, etc. Besides, Windows 7 already comes with CD/DVD burning capability.
  • FastBoot: Times your Windows boot time and allows you to disable programs from loading.
  • Virtual camera: A pretty useless video conferencing tool that overlays your video with cutesy borders. Requires you to know other Virtual Camera users in order to connect.

Restoring Windows and Removing Bloatware

Asus includes the operating system, drivers, and additional software on two DVDs (some manufacturers opt to leave a disc image on your hard drive, but not Asus). Using Asus’ discs and restoring Windows 7 Home Premium was a painless process – just put the DVD into the drive and let it go. After a few prompts and an hour of your time, you’ll have the G51J back to a clean state.

While the restore process gets everything up and running, it does omit some key drivers: the WiFi adapter, and the memory card reader. You can easily add this yourself by going into the Windows Device Manager and let the OS search for appropriate drivers on the driver DVD.

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Feeling bloated?

Interestingly Asus does not install any additional software with the restore process. You’d expect some proprietary software like Asus Splendid or Power 4 Gear to be installed, but this isn’t the case. All the extra software (or bloat) can be installed manually from the DVD – thus leaving your restored OS in a very clean state.

So if you’re looking to buy a G51J but don’t want the extra stuff loaded on, do a OS restore out of the box and you’ll have a pristine system to start from.
However, you’ll want to install some of the Asus software since they are useful:
  • Power4Gear
  • ATK Asus hot key utility (allows you to use the Fn+key commands in Windows)
  • Key backlight driver

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