You Grade The Brands: ASUS Notebooks

Rate The Brands - ASUSLast year we reviewed more than 130 notebooks and netbooks, rating each according to design, performance, usability and more. Generally, we focus on individual systems, but over time we’ve been able to identify trends based on the vendor. As part of our ongoing You Grade the Brands series, we’ve synthesized a year’s worth of our reviews, our annual Tech Support Showdown, and third-party data to help you narrow down your choices.  So how does ASUS stack up?

Check out ASUS’s strengths and weaknesses and its 2009 review scorecard below. Then sound off in the comments and tell us what you think of the brand and about your own experience with your ASUS notebook or netbook. Without your input, our report card will be incomplete.

Strengths

  • Design: We’re not fans of the glossy plastic ASUS often uses in their designs, but we’re fans of the overall aesthetic and functional design choices the vendor makes. This was particularly on display in ultraportable systems like the UL30A and UL80Vt, which combined sleek, thin chassis with long battery life and good keyboards. We also like the Seashell line of netbooks, which evolved over 2009 from being heavily focused on good looks to a balanced blend of form and function.
  • Performance: ASUS notebooks and netbooks delivered consistently good overall performance as well as great graphics performance in mainstream and gaming systems. Most of our thumbs-up for performance went to the vendor’s mainstream systems, though netbooks like the original Eee PC 1008HA and 1201N distinguished themselves with speedy hard drives and relatively powerful CPUs.
  • Battery Life: We were impressed throughout the year by ASUS’ ability to keep pace with or beat the competition when it came to endurance. Netbooks like the Eee PC 1005HA and ultraportables like the UL30A were able to last longer than 9 hours on a charge.

Weaknesses

  • Keyboards: At the end of 2008 and through the beginning of 2009 ASUS notebooks were often plagued with poor keyboards that either flexed too much, didn’t provide good tactile feedback, or otherwise just weren’t the best. However, the company turned that around as the year went on, improving its from netbooks to gaming notebooks.
  • Too Much Bling: Glossy plastic chassis may look good sitting on a store shelf but aren’t so great for everyday use. ASUS’ propensity toward shiny lids and decks results in fingerprint-covered netbooks and notebooks. Not only does matte look a bit classier, it also keeps laptops from seeming constantly grimy.
  • No Configuration Options: Though ASUS often offers more than one model within a given product line, the company does not sell direct. That means that consumers cannot configure notebooks online to fit their needs. It could be argued that with so many choices there is likely to be something for every consumer, but there will always be users who want the perfect combination of hardware and can’t find it in the pre-configured models the company offers.

Review Report Card

In 2009 we reviewed a total of 20 ASUS notebooks and netbooks. Of those, 35% earned 4 stars, 45% earned 3.5 stars, and 10% earned 3 stars. The ASUS W90 has the distinction of being the highest rated ASUS notebook of the year with 4.5 stars. Unfortunately, the Eee PC T91 Tablet got the lowest of the scores: 2.5. Four ASUS notebooks (20% total) were awarded LAPTOP’s Editor’s Choice.

asus-chart

Best Rated Notebooks

Worst Rated Notebooks

Tech Support and Reliability

ASUS got a decent score of B- in our Tech Support Showdown. According to a study by Square Trade, ASUS has one of the lowest malfunction rates over 3 years — 15.6% — just under Toshiba.

The company that introduced the netbook to the world slipped a little last year as stalwarts like HP and upstarts like Acer and Samsung moved in on the category they created. Still, over the course of 2009 ASUS proved that it could surprise us and continues to learn from user feedback. What’s next? As we saw at CES, the company is emphasizing higher-end designs, including a desktop replacement designed by Bang & Olufsen and a notebook made with bamboo.

Now It’s Your Turn

Do you own an ASUS laptop? Owned one in the recent past? What does ASUS get right and where does the company need improvement? Tell us how you’d grade ASUS and why.

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  1. Tom Says:

    They make the best laptops hands down.

    Why buy a “brand name” laptop… if your not some big shot real estate agent, lawyer, accountant, or sales person trying to show off how successful you are???

    Just buy Asus… they are very very reliable, they are rich in technology and they provide alot of value. the down side is that the body of the computer isnt that good. the case feels very solid compared to my old tosihab but like the article says… abit too shinny.. the case designs can somtimes get tacky too..

    But worst of all they have the worst keyboards!!! they are not that sensitive. i hope they actually improve them. i bet it only cost notebook manufactuers like 5 to 2 dollars for a note book keyboard…. i think it is an unwise choice for asus to get a crapp keyboard..

    other than that… the reason why ithink they are very reliable is because their experience in producing other manufactuers laptops as a subcontractor for the computer manufactuers like Apple and Dell..

    ASUS is also one of the leading manufacture of Motherboards. Known for their reliablity… Laptop motherboard failures is one of the leading causes of unoperatable laptops… they are also very expensive to repair… thus forcing u to get a new one. because the ROI isn’t there compared to getting a new one. I also think ASUS provides one of the most aggressive warrenties for their laptops.

    For example you can get free “Accidental Damange” warrenty for 1 to 2 years. u get 1 year for just buying the machine… but you will get 2 years if you register the computer within 2 years.

    Ussally this accedental laptop plan ussally run for about 15-20 percent of the cost of the laptop. IMO newegg sells the pcs at the lowest cost.

    Im an owner of a ASUS computer NOT their marketer.

    last but not least ASUS was started by fromer Acer engineers/employees. Acer build super unreliable pcs… Asus is the opposite :)

  2. Devesh Says:

    Asus notebooks are very reliable. I have used HP, Dell and Acer and they source parts from cheap Chinese manufactueres. They will develop problems as soon as the warranty is over. Most of the HP laptops have design defects and ovear heating and graphic related issues. Acer uses cheap parts and they don’t last long. Dell is better than two but not as reliable as a Sony or Toshiba. However, Asus beats all because its a ODM (original designer and manufacturer). Product quality is at its best. Very few people actually know that Asus makes notebooks for Apple and Sony. So those using a Macbook pro or Vio are actually using an Asus product.

    Other ODM’s are Compal, Twinhead and MSI and are based in Taiwan.

  3. Alin Says:

    I have also a Asus k52 , and I want to see how reliable will be. I am glad to see that Asus make the most reliable notebooks.

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