Asus VivoBook X550CA Review – Many budget laptops look either unremarkable or just plain ugly, but not the Asus VivoBook X550CA. Despite its low price, the lid has an eye-catching concentric-circle design, while the wrist rest is ribbed and the area around the keyboard has a subtle polka-dot pattern.
Asus VivoBook X550CA, A budget laptop undermined by one glaring flaw
There are several different configurations of the X550CA available, all of which come with Windows 8.1. This one is powered by an Intel Core i3 3217U dual-core processor. Although one of the slowest models in Intel’s previous generation of ‘Ivy Bridge’ processors, it’s still fast enough for most everyday tasks.Battery life is also reasonably good for a budget laptop – lasting just over five hours – and, unlike most other modern laptops, the battery can easily be replaced. It’s also a doddle to upgrade the memory and hard drive if you need to. The X550CA is a 15in laptop with a built-in DVD drive, so it weighs in at a hefty 2.3kg, increasing to 2.5kg when paired with its charger.
This isn’t a serious problem for a laptop designed for use around the home rather than on the move though. The plastic construction is reasonably sturdy, even if the base does flex under pressure more than we’d like. The underside never became uncomfortably warm during our test, even when the laptop was handling demanding tasks such as editing video. Asus has squeezed in a number pad, albeit with narrower keys than those on the rest of the keyboard. This leaves less space for the cursor keys, which are also smaller and therefore harder to press for touch typists. All this is a shame, because otherwise the keyboard is comfortable to use. It’s a similar story with the touchpad. It’s large and accurate, but it’s far too easy to accidentally activate the gestures which replicate the ones you use on the touchscreen, such as swiping in from the right to bring up the Charms bar. The X550CA’s biggest flaw, however, is its screen.
It’s reasonably bright and has a resolution of 1366×768 pixels. Disappointingly, though, colour accuracy is very poor. Some photos we viewed, which should have had vibrant blue skies, looked pale and almost greyishwhite. The display’s glossy sheen is also very reflective, so there’s a lot of distracting glare from overhead lighting. Despite niggles with its keyboard, the Asus VivoBook X550CA is a reasonably good budget laptop with pleasing looks, respectable performance and lengthy battery life. Its poor-quality screen is a major disadvantage though, ruling the X550CA out for anyone with even a passing interest in photo- and videoediting. We’d rather have the Sony Vaio Fit 14E, which is a superior budget laptop thanks to its better quality screen.
Asus VivoBook X550CA SPECIFICATIONS
- 15.6in 1366×768-pixel touchscreen
- 1.8GHz Intel Core i3 3217U dual-core processor
- Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics
- 4GB memory
- 750GB hard drive
- 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi
- Windows 8.1
- 2.3kg (2.5kg with charger)
- 32x308x351mm (HxWxD)
- One-year warranty
- Part code X550CA-CJ296H