Asus NX90JQ £2200
25th Nov 2010 | 15:20
Asus and Bang & Olufsen join forces for this new laptop
Asus NX90JQ review: Overview
Every company has its 'hero' products, such as Asus' NX90JQ. These hero laptops usually boast cutting edge design or power (or both), cost an enormous amount of money and – most importantly – boost the brand awareness of the company.
But with the NX90JQ, the Taiwanese electronics giant has gone a different route – in this case creating a multimedia monster targeted at those after a premium sounding product and who aren't bothered about the matching price tag.
And at around £2,500 the price tag is a heavy one. But with the NX90JQ you do get bang for your hard-earned buck. There's the much touted Bang & Olufsen (B&O) speaker system, high-end components, an impressive features list and a gorgeous polished aluminium design.
Some could correctly argue you can get this kind of performance elsewhere for less cash, and they'd be right. MSI's excellent GX660R offers a very similar experience, including dedicated speakers, while the Acer Aspire Ethos 8943G should also be considered. But neither offers quite the swagger or beauty of the Asus NX90JQ – even if the laptop fails to deliver in certain areas.
Asus NX90JQ review: Specification
The first thing you'll notice about the Asus NX90JQ is the sheer size of the laptop. A lot of this is down to the 18.4-inch screen. The Full HD 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution offers a very detailed picture, but is lacking the brightness we'd expect of a multimedia centre, and colour vibrancy isn't fantastic as a result.
Nevertheless Blu-ray movies – watched on the integrated Blu-ray optical drive – look fantastic on the NX90JQ's screen, which also makes the laptop suited to editing HD movies and photos.
The two B&O speakers sitting either side of the screen are the main reason the laptop is so large. Positioned to offer the best audio experience, and combined with Asus' SonicMaster technology, sound quality is great. We tested a broad range of music genres – from classical to hip-hop – and were largely impressed by the quality and clarity of audio produced.
Before we get too carried away, it's important to note that, as good as the NX90JQ is, it'll never replace a dedicated hi-fi system. We also compared the laptop with a set of £200 desktop speakers and found the latter outgunned the NX90JQ in most areas, especially stereo and bass.
It's also important to note that there are other options with dedicated speaker systems, such as the HP Envy 14 Beats Edition and MSI GX660R, that offer a very similar experience sonically, but don't cost nearly as much, so it's important to consider your options before making a purchase.
The combination of speakers and screen give the laptop a unique appearance that divided opinion at TechRadar. Some thought it looked great while others argued it gives the NX90JQ an unfortunate top-heavy appearance. However all agreed how good the polished aluminium finishes is.
When closed, the NX90JQ looks more like a piece of art than a laptop, and the same goes when the machine is open thanks to the large polished aluminium palmrest, which sits completely unblemished.
You'll quickly realise the reason the palmrest looks so great – apart from the material used – is the lack of a touchpad. This is because Asus has employed an innovative design that employs not one but two touch pads, each with left- and right-click buttons.
Placed either side of the keyboard, they're supposed to be used in conjunction with Asus' Desktop Rotation software, which features special gestures but the company decided to leave out at the last minute. As a result you're left with two touchpads that nicely use up quite a bit of excess chassis space. Nevertheless, they support full multi-touch functionality, although aren't as intuitive as Apple's MacBook Pro system.
The Asus NX90JQ's keyboard is large and comfortable to use, and if you want a laptop for regular typing you could do a lot worse. There's no dedicated number pad, however, which may put off those who regularly input data.
The NX90JQ's plastic chassis is well put together and features a wealth of ports and connections. Down the left side you'll find the slot-loading Blu-ray optical drive as well as multi-card reader and a USB port. Down the right side of the laptop sit three more USB ports. Two boast USB 3.0 technology – for rapid data transfers to external devices – while one doubles as an eSATA port.
There are also VGA and HDMI outs, as well as the Ethernet port and a digital TV tuner aerial port.
Asus NX90JQ review: Performance
Considering the quality and power of components beneath the hoo,d we expected the NX90JQ to be exceptionally powerful, but it didn't quite match our expectations.
Don't get us wrong. The quad-core Intel 1.73GHz Core i7-740QM, which overclocks itself automatically to 2.93GHz thanks to an Intel's Turbo Boost technology, is more than capable of running pretty much any commercially available program as smoothly as you'd like – thanks in part to the 6GB of memory on board. However, the laptop is outperformed by the Sony VAIO-VPCZ12V9E/X and also Asus' own G73JH.
We don't know about you, but we'd expect the best power on the market for this price, regardless of if we were ever going to need or even use it, and the Asus NX90JQ doesn't deliver.
The same can be said for graphical performance. The NX90JQ features a Nvidia GeForce GT 335M graphics card with 1GB of dedicated video memory, and again benchmark results were disappointing – and the MSI GX740 provides significantly more graphical performance at a fraction of the price.
If you want to casually edit high-definition film and play the latest games without too many issues, the power is fine, but for the money we still expect more.
The NX90JQ boasts two 640GB hard drives offering acres of storage for your multimedia files and folders, so those with hundreds of movies, songs and photos should be well catered for well into the future.
As mentioned above, a Blu-ray drive is included for watching the latest films, but while you can't write to Blu-ray disks (another shame considering the price of the NX90JQ) you can to CDs and DVDs. 802.11n Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet are on board, and are the current fastest networking technologies around.
As you'd expect, portability isn't the NX90JQ's strong card. The 4.4kg the machine weighs is hernia-inducing, and the polished aluminium finish will quickly attract scratches and scuffs on the road. Contrastingly, however, the 210 minute battery life isn't bad at all considering the power of the components involved.
Asus NX90JQ review: Conclusion
We found it very hard to come to a conclusion about the Asus NX90JQ. On the one hand, it's a laptop with a uniquely gorgeous design, great audio, innovative usability – courtesy of the twin touchpads – and powerful performance.
But there's a nagging feeling that, while the NX90JQ does its job well, the audio isn't that spectacular, the twin touchpad design – which does work – is a little pointless without the excluded Desktop Rotation software and the performance isn't all conquering. All these arguments are placed into even sharper relief when the price is chucked into the mix.
It's important to note, however, that the above qualms may be of little consequence to those simply after something a little different and have the cash to splash. For the rest of us, however, better value for money (if that's what you're after) can be found elsewhere. The Acer Aspire Ethos 8943G or the HP Envy 14 Beats Edition (if you're after something a little more portable) are good starting points.
There's a lot we liked about the Asus NX90JQ. First and foremost, the design is killer, and the glorious polished aluminium finish is beautiful to behold.
The sound quality produced by the B&O speakers is also impressive and some will really enjoy using the twin touchpad system – especially the left-handed.
This is a very powerful machine that will carve its way through pretty much anything you care to throw at it. Add in the Blu-ray drive and considerable storage space and you're looking at a highly specified laptop.
On-top of the above the NX90JQ boasts a wealth of features including a TV Tuner, USB 3.0 and cutting edge networking technologies.
Firstly the cost, and ultimately it's hard to see how the NX90JQ offers value for money.
Sound quality is good for a laptop, but equalled or bettered by a standard set of desktop speakers – which may be a better and cheaper option if you're looking to enhance your audio experience.
Performance is good, but not all-conquering, and for those with serious multimedia interests, such as gamers and serious movie editors, there's more power on offer elsewhere for cheaper.
For a multimedia machine, the screen brightness isn't quite up to scratch.