Mini Notebook Laptop – Asus B23E
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Call it a business notebook or a performance netbook, the Asus B23E is a well-performed little machine which caters to a wide audience, not just professionals. However, some people will not enjoy the rather plain design but it does indeed look like a business-oriented system and we all know that such systems don’t have an attractive design (think about Lenovo’s ThinkPad series). This manages to be a portable system since it has a small form factor and it weighs just 3.4 pounds, plus it seems to be quite durable without having to be heavy. The company says that this model has been drop test, while the hinge has also been put some extensive tests. In addition, it has an anti-shock hard drive while the panels have been pressure tested.
The chassis and the cover of the Asus B23E benefit from a rock solid magnesium alloy construction, and the company has mentioned that its keyboard is spill-proof. There aren’t any noticeable signs of flex so it’s safe to say that the build quality is top notch. Unfortunately, much like other netbooks out there this system is not that easy to upgrade. You do have the possibility of upgrading the memory and changing the wireless network adapter by taking off two covers located on the bottom panel. We should mention that this model is able to hold up to 8GB of DDR3 RAM running at 1,333 MHz.
Let’s see what ports and features this Asus netbook has and we begin by having a look at the front of the system where we notice the microphone and headphone jacks, the Wi-Fi on/off switch, a multi-format memory card reader and the activity lights. You won’t find anything at the back so let’s move on to the left where there are two USB 2.0 ports, one USB 2.0 / eSATA combo port, along with the exhaust vent. The right spine of the B23E is a bit crowded since it holds the SmartCard reader, ExpressCard reader, a USB 3.0 port, an HDMI port, RJ-45 Ethernet port, VGA out, Kensington Lock slot, AC power jack and the phone line-in jack.
Asus has equipped the B23E with a 12.5-inch matte LED display that has a native resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels (the only one available) and a 16:9 aspect ratio. Given the small size of the screen, that 720p resolution is more than enough, while the contrast ratio stands at 167:1 (according to NotebookReview.com). We were quite disappointed with the viewing angles of the screen as these are quite limited, but we like the matte coating since those glossy ones are way too reflective which doesn’t make them appropriate for business-oriented laptops which are normally used in bright offices where there’s a lot of light.
It has been fitted with VIA HD speakers and drivers, but the sound quality is not mind-blowing, but it doesn’t have to be since it’s a laptop meant to do business, not multimedia. However, if the muffle sound is disturbing you, we would like to suggest buying some external speakers or a good set of headphones if you want a better sound quality.
Let’s move on with the review and talk about the keyboard which adopts a chiclet-style layout that provides a good typing experience so you probably won’t make a lot mistakes while typing fast. The good news is that although this is a netbook-sized system, the keyboard doesn’t feel cramped at all as there’s a good amount of spacing while the keys are well-proportioned. You get dedicated home, page and end keys, while to the right of the touchpad is a fingerprint reader for added security. We also liked the fact that the keyboard is extremely silent which means that you won’t be bothering your workmates at all.
The Asus B23E has an ELAN touchpad which manages to do its job quite well but we hoped it would be a little bit bigger, even though this is a netbook and there isn’t a lot of space available, but there still some room above the keyboard. We do appreciate the amount of horizontal space but the vertical one is just too limited. The surface of the touchpad is matte and provides just enough finger resistance.
When it comes down to the hardware components, this business-oriented netbook can be fitted with one of the following processors: Intel Core i3-2350M / 2330M, Intel Core i5-2540M / 2450M or a more powerful Intel Core i7-2640M, all from the previous Sandy Bridge platform so no Ivy Bridge processors yet. The chipset is an Intel QM67, while the RAM as we already said can be upgraded up to 8GB of DDR3 @ 1,333 MHz. In the graphics department it has the usual integrated Intel HD 3000 solution so don’t expect to get any gaming performance as the integrated GPU can only do HD videos and some casual games.
In the storage area there are several hard drives (no SSDs yet) available, such as a 320GB spinning at 5,400 rpm, a bigger 500GB rotating at either 5,400 or 7,200 rpm, along with a more spacious 640GB at 5,400 rpm and the 750GB hard drive that can spin at 5,400 rpm or 7,200 rpm. It also has a card reader that supports the following formats: SD / MS / MS Pro / xD / MMC. Also on board is a two megapixel webcam, Bluetooth 3.0 + HS, 802.11n Wi-Fi, LoJack, Intel Anti-Theft and an optional TPM (Trusted Platform Module).
We end the review by talking about the battery performance of the Asus B23. It is worth mentioning that this model comes with the company’s Xpress Charge technology so you can fill up the battery to 90% of its capacity in 90 minutes. The only battery available for this netbook is a small 3-cell 4400 mAh 48 Whrs unit which has been tested by Asus and Sonata to last approximately 900 charge cycles. NotebookReview.com has tested it thoroughly and it can last 5 hours and 16 minutes with the Balanced profile activated in Windows 7, with the screen brightness at 70%, Wi-Fi on and a web page refresh every minute. The result isn’t that great but since we’re dealing with a 3-cell battery and a power-hungry CPU (they tested it with the i7 processor), it’s actually a good result that not a lot of other netbooks with these specs can match.