Windows 8-powered laptops equipped with touchscreens are becoming increasingly common by the day. One such model is the recently launched Asus VivoBook S550CM that packs powerful hardware and exudes class to boot. Here’s our take on what it has to offer.
Windows 8-powered Ultrabook with a touchscreen
Design and features
You can easily tell that the VivoBook S550CM looks very different from other similar-sized laptops. It’s slightly less than an inch thick, which is quite impressive for a laptop with a 15.6-inch display. However, its fairly large footprint and 2.6 kg of heft deters us from recommending it as a travel companion—it’s better suited to be a replacement for a desktop PC.
The VivoBook S550CM scores high on aesthetics—it’s simple, yet looks very elegant. The black colour lid is of aluminium with fine brushed finish. To add contrast, Asus has gone in with a light colour for the palm rest and the area around the keyboard, which again is of aluminium. It’s the generous use of metal that makes this laptop stand out from the crowd. The base of the chassis is black and made of good quality plastic.
Less than an inch thick with the lid closed
At the heart of the laptop is the third-generation Intel Core i5-3317U processor clocked at 1.7GHz, 4GB of DDR3 RAM and a 750GB hard drive. Paired with the hard drive is a 24GB solid state drive to improve the responsiveness of the operating system. Unlike laptops that use only integrated or discrete graphics, the VivoBook S550CM features switchable graphics courtesy Nvidia Optimus. In idle state or while using applications that don’t need discrete graphics, it uses the integrated Intel HD graphics. But when applications demand, Nvidia GeForce GT635M (with 2GB of dedicated memory) kicks in. Alternatively, you can force programs to use integrated or discrete graphics via Nvidia’s control panel. The discrete GPU suffices for accelerating media playback and casual gaming at native resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels.
Video outputs, Gigabit Ethernet port and USB 3.0 port
All the ports and I/O are placed on the sides for convenient access. The left side has D-sub and HDMI video outputs, a Gigabit Ethernet port and a USB 3.0 port. Over to the right side, you have a tray-loading DVD writer, a pair of USB 2.0 ports and a headphone/mic combo jack. That said, the VivoBook S550CM is one of the few Ultrabooks to feature an optical drive.
USB 2.0 ports and DVD-writer
Oops...did we just say Ultrabook? Even though this laptop has a large footprint and clearly isn’t ultra-light at 2.6 kg, it still qualifies as an Ultrabook because it meets all the criteria laid down by Intel to be marketed as one. This includes being up to 21 mm thick (for models with 14-inch and larger displays) and featuring ultra-low voltage processor and USB 3.0 connectivity among other requirements. That said, the VivoBook S550CM is the first Ultrabook we’ve come across to feature removable battery and user-upgradeable memory and hard drive; a common feature in laptops.
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