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Small factor powerful device for every day usePosted
>>> Introduction I wanted to try something smaller than the regular 15.6" size laptops we own, as well as to put my hands on non-Intel based processor laptops. After some careful consideration, I picked this Asus 14" that runs on AMD (well I already had in mind I needed to try an AMD based system). I was not completely sold on it, but based on the specs and form factor, I decided to give it a try. First/early impressions are deceiving. After a couple of hours of use I was not really impressed (or perhaps I was just focused on the negatives). Ok, I've to be sincere, I was having buyer's remorse, the machine looked very small, the default windows mode was too big, the horizontal to vertical ratio seemed excessive, it looked bulky for its size, tablet mode didn't feel right, among other minor issues. But after days of use, I am very pleased with this Asus laptop. From an initial overall rating of 3.5/5.0 floating on my head, I think this one deserves a rating in the 4.5-5.0 range. In comparison, we have Surface Book and a Dell at home, with this being the third laptop. I was primarily using the Dell, but took this as my next device, and I can say that although it feels a little small, after a while, it is very enjoyable to use. You may say that I am just adjusting myself to it after using it for a while, but no, I still use my work provided Surface Book daily, and I can attest that this device has been as enjoyable as the Surface Book, perhaps a little more, since I can do more personal stuff on this device than on the work laptop. The two most important factors for me are Screen (resolution and quality image quality) and Performance (CPU speed and the like). I've to say that I am content with the decision to go for this little beast. Picture quality is great, and I can perform multiple tasks, for example listening/viewing to YouTube videos while working on a Word document. I've yet to install Adobe Illustrator and Visual Studio for video and software development, but so far, this has proven to do its job fine and swift. After some initial second thoughts, I am very happy with this device. I might even buy AMD stocks now that their laptops seem to perform at par (or better? @@@@@@@ than the Intel based ones. This taught me to try things for a little longer, not for the purpose of getting used to them, but to have a better and more solid experience and provide a more informed feedback. >> Overall Pros: takes little real estate, great picture quality, easy multitasking, very responsive. >> Overall Cons: built-in speakers faulty location, recommended resolution/scaling too big, too bulky for its size. >>> Built quality Overall, it feels a little bulky for what is to be an ultra-portable, but it is mentioned to be a military grade quality laptop, so I am giving it the credit for potentially being very solid. I won't drop it on the floor or anything like that, I am just saying that for the extra bulkiness, a higher level of toughness it is worth at the end. From all the bulkiness, the part that adds to it the most is the connection between the screen and keyboard portions, yes, it feels solid, but it is something noticeable after a few hours use. As I mentioned, for an extra level of durability, that should be just fine. >>> Screen We have at home one Surface Book at 3000x2000 resolution and a Dell 4k at 3840 ? 2160 resolution, the former 14" and the latter 15.6" screen diagonal size with the latter used mostly by me. So, I'd figure that an Asus at 1920x1080 and 14" inches (with no edges) would be a fine addition. Provided the right Windows 10 settings are in place (resolution and scaling), and as can be seen in the attached picture, the quality of the image of this Asus can compete with the other two ones. I am now appreciative of the smaller real estate that this device takes, compared to the others, while still delivering an outstanding image quality. This device has a 1920x1080 recommended resolution (max resolution). In Windows 10, the recommended scaling is at 150% which results in the screen to show less content than desired (words, pictures look too big). At that setting, in landscape (non-tablet) mode, web pages for major news, technology and other sites, render fine leaving a vertical space on the sides so that you can scroll with your right or left thumbs on the touch screen. On the other hand, at this setting, portrait mode (tablet mode) looks very awkward, with too much vertical content as opposed to horizontal. So, I am not sure 150% should be really "the" recommended scaling for this device. Now, I changed the recommended scaling from 150% to 125%, and at that resolution, although more content is visible from websites, most of them leave a lot of white space on the sides. Tablet mode shows more content horizontally than the recommended setting, so content doesn't look awkward anymore in that mode, leaving a better impression on my side. Well, with not too big thumbs and digits, I can still manage to hit in the right places at this scaling. I'd figure people with bigger hands/finders would still feel more comfortable with the 150% scaling. >>> Performance I am impressed with how fast this computer is perceived. I was able to multitask easily with no visible performance degradation as far as I could tell. One comparison test I did was to use Outlook on my Surface Book and this Asus laptop to sync my Microsoft email account (Hotmail) in Outlook: the Asus took around 15 mins to sync one year of data, about 1GB, and my Surface Book took basically about the same time. With the Surface Book being an i7 Intel core, I was more than happy with this and other comparison tests I made. Note that video editing and software development are yet to be tested/compared. >>> Setup This machine comes with a Windows 10 Home Version. Initial configuration was a breeze, and for the first time, and given that this one would be solely my laptop, I decided to use my Microsoft account to configure the system. I'd usually just setup my personal computers with a local account, but I decided to go for Windows Hello (PIN based authentication) and all the automatic settings from my Hotmail (a.k.a. Microsoft) account. Still with privacy in mind, I didn't choose Cortana to snoop and to get in my way (besides I am too old school to get someone to tell what to do) and I also decide not to sync to OneDrive automatically. As usual, a little too much bloatware than desired, I wish only the basic stuff to be preloaded. Well, after a couple of weeks usage you'll figure which applications need silencing anyways. >>> Peripherals I've had a few issues in the past on different machines not connecting to Bluetooth speakers timely or recognizing them timely, that seemed to have stemmed from OS issues rather than a hardware problem. I am glad that so far all the Bluetooth devices I've thrown at this, were able to connect. Wireless connectivity at different location, work/home/public, has been going fine with no issues. >>> Storage and Memory Definitely, modern laptops should all be running on SSD drives, not on the 5400rpm ancient ones. I've seen laptops running on 5400rpm disk drives, and I am sure the main contributing factor to the sluggishness presented by those computers was the disk drive. This one is a breeze. Even though it has 8GB and one might be tempted to think that it is not enough and might hurt the performance, it turns out that the 4GB of paging seems enough. >>> Sound Who in their right mind places the speakers at the bottom on the sides of the laptop? Did they do it so that you can "feel" the music when the device is placed on your lap? As opposed to "hear" the music? Or some new-enhanced experience? Regardless, I think this was a bad idea, even when placed on a flat surface, the sound that comes out is not clear because there is some rebound from the underlying surface, you'll need to hold the machine on your hands or tilt it to get what otherwise looks like a very good sounding speakers. I wonder if the decision was to force people to use headphones or place the laptop on a pedestal to get a clear sound that you could enjoy. Who did this to this beauty? Not a deal breaker to me, but when I want to annoy my family with my music, I want it to do it crisp and clear. In addition, there is also some uncomfortable vibration when the laptop is placed on your lap while playing music on the speakers. >>> Battery This is other aspect of the game, and the Asus Q406D has a decent battery life. in full YouTube/music/video mode at work, just to test the battery, it easily lasted for about 6 hours, so the specs are right in the estimated time. As stated earlier I've yet to try some heavy image/video editing software as well as software development. >>> Laptop vs Tablet mode Ideally if it was detachable would be very handy to use it as a tablet. It feels a little bulky when in tablet mode. Given its size it is not an issue. The nice thing is that I can watch videos on a semi-tablet mode (the device folded half-way). Very convenient. I'd think this to be a perfect laptop for a college student. Buy the pen, and an Office365 subscription (or get it through college) and you won't need notebooks nor recorders to take notes and record lectures. >>> Keyboard Initially, I was not sure about the keyboard being risen in the back, as opposed to flat from the other ones I've, but it turns out, it feels comfortable when I am typing on this device when it is resting on a flat surface. >>> Touch screen I'ven't bought the Asus recommend stylus, but I've tried writing with my Surface Book Pen and it feels ok. I am sure if I get my hands on the recommended Pen I'd give a more positive feedback.
I would recommend this to a friend
Awesome Ultra Portable LaptopPosted
The Asus Q406DA Zenbook is an ultra portable laptop with excellent build quality. Despite being very light and thin, the aluminum frame feels very sturdy with little or no flexing. It's a very solid laptop. The Asus Zenbook Q406DA is great for surfing the internet, watching videos, editing text, software development and light gaming while affording great portability and long battery life. The super thin bezel allows you to have a larger screen on a smaller frame so it looks bigger than it really is. It takes up space like a smaller notebook but provides the productivity of a larger laptop. The display panel is excellent with wide viewing angles and bright rich colors. The built-in Radeon RX Vega 8 graphics has excellent video decoding capabilities so videos and movies look and play great. The Harman/Kardon speakers provide clean clear sound. The unit I'm reviewing contains the following: WindowsR 10 Home AMDR RyzenT 5 3500U Processor with integrated Radeon RX Vega 8 graphics 14.0" FHD Touch Panel (1920 x 1080) 8GB DDR4 System Memory (2GB are reserved for the integrated graphics) 256GB SanDisk SSD using SATA3 interface Intel Dual Band Wireless AC-8265 802.11ac (2x2) + Bluetooth 4.2 1 USB 2.0 port 1 Micro SD slot 1 HDMI port 1 USB 3.1 Gen 1 port 1 USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C port 1 Headphone jack While I wished it was larger, the 256GB SSD should be adequate for most people. With 256GB, I'm able to install Visual Studio 2017 with an almost full workload (50GB) and still have about 131GB left over. Performance was very zippy based on my experience with Visual Studio. Coding, editing and building projects felt as responsive as if working from my main desktop system. If you need additional space you can install a microSDXC card into the microSD slot. Just make sure you format it as NTFS instead of exFAT or FAT to avoid any possible problems with apps not being able to update automatically. I inserted a Sandisk 128GB UHS-I V10/A1 class microSDXC card and installed Witcher 3 there and after a slightly slower startup time, I didn't notice any slowness compared to running the game from the main SSD drive. The Ryzen 5 3500U wasn't able to run Witcher 3 acceptably at 1080p so I had to lower the resolution to 1280 x 720 and image quality to low in order for it to be playable for me. At those settings, it got around 18 to 30 fps. It still looked great to me at those settings and I'm amazed at how far integrated graphics have come. Battery life seemed pretty good as I got around 5 hours while watching YouTube, installing and playing around with software such as Visual Studio 2017 and surfing the web. At the end of 5 hours, battery life was showing 22%. The new Ryzen CPUs seem very power efficient. The Intel Dual Band Wireless AC-8265 provides decent connectivity with transfer speeds of 5 to 16 MB/s to/from my NAS. The transfer speed seems to vary a lot during file transfers but never stalls. I never saw any stutter or lag when playing videos from YouTube. It was averaging 116 fps using Handbrake to encode videos with the Fast 1080p30 preset. Switching to the Super HQ 1080p30 Surround Sound preset, it was averaging around 18 fps which I think is pretty impressive for an ultra laptop. For comparison, my Intel Core i5-9600K desktop gets about 44 fps using the Super HQ preset. In terms of noise, it's a very quiet laptop. There is a fan in there which comes on when doing processor intensive activities such as encoding videos. Even when the fan is on, the noise is very minimal and the laptop never got hot. It only gets slightly warm on the left side. Upgradability seems limited. In fact, I don't see any clear paths to upgrade memory or the internal SSD. There are videos that show how to upgrade memory and the SSD for other ZenBooks by removing the bottom screws and bottom of the laptop but I don't feel comfortable with trying this and accidentally breaking something on my beautiful laptop. Utilities such a CPU-Z show that it has 8GB of dual channel DDR4 2400 memory with 18 CAS latency but the display for the SPD information and the memory slots are blank. This makes me feel like the memory might not be upgradable even if the laptop were easy to open it up. Overall, I think most people would be very happy with the Asus ZenBook Q406DA. The Ryzen 5 3500U feels very zippy for everything that I have tried and the integrated graphics is best in its class for entertainment like watching videos and light gaming. It's also very light and portable with good battery life for those who travel.
I would recommend this to a friend