Asus VivoBook E403S Notebook Review
Price £280 as of March 2016
Intel Pentium N3700 Quad Core ‘up to’ 2.4 GHz
2GB DDR3L 1600 MHz SDRAM
32gGB SSD Drive
14″ ‘Auto HD’ Display (1366×768)
Integrated Intel HD Graphics
1xHDMI. 1xUSB 3.0, 1xUSB 2.0, 1xUSB-C, SD Card reader, Audio Jack, WiFi b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0.
Full spec sheet here. – Asus.com
If you’re in the market for portable windows machine with a bit more kick then a 2-in-1 tablet but not too fussed about touchscreen, this may just sway you back to a fixed hinged notebook. Other advantages is a fullsize notebook keyboard which is alot better to type on then a compacted 2-in-1.
With an impressive battery capacity rated for up to 14 hours of chargerless usage, this laptop could last you all day un-tethered to a charging wire. The charger on its own is small and compact and very portable to carry, just in case! Also noteworthy is the length of the charging lead; it’s ample.
The Pentium N3700 quad core processor is definitely a viable option compared with some of the fastest 2-in-1 tablets, punching above the high end Atom x5-Z8500’s weight in benchmarks.
This particular model has 2GB RAM, and running Windows 10 Home 64bit can be a bit of a struggle mainly because of the sheer amount of bloatware that arrived with this device, severely limiting the hardware’s potential which is a great shame for a good looking product.
*After some research, it seems unlikely to preform a ram upgrade, as it is located on the logic board itself.
This particular model ships with a 32GB built in SSD but there is a 64GB model available too.
Now, the OS takes alot of that space up, however one could argue that the bloatware takes up the majority of it. This model shipped with 250GB free cloud storage for 2 years which is plenty for textfiles and the like, however you may need to take advantage of the USB3.0 slot if you are to bring games and media files along with you (which isn’t too much of a problem nowadays)
*Again, research suggests that this isn’t an upgrade-able component
As a notebook, it doesn’t have a touch screen display and probably with battery economy in mind, the screen has been spared of a nice high def display isn’t too dis-similar to my old fullsize laptop display from 2006.
The colour is also quite wishy washy and would be nice if you could turn up the saturation sometimes.
However it is surprisingly sharp and can really shine when you turn up the brightness.
The Keys have a nice feel to them, but a tad noisey with a tinny outburst on keypress. There is alot of room on the keyboard and would be difficult to press another key by mistake. They feel quite solid and I can’t see one going missing anytime soon.
The touchpad is a different animal entirely, with very good responsiveness and a large surface area. It ships with Asus gesture input software with loads of useful combinations, some of which I’m getting used too. It has left and right click buttons at the bottom of the pad too, but I do find the buttons a bit on the noisy side.
The sound is delivered by stereo speakers situated on the underside of the device. A quick flick through some youtube videos gives some impressive sound! They can go quite loud with a nice blend of deep lows and clear highs; I can see that streaming video content would satisfying with this laptop.
A combination of USB2.0, USB3.o, USB-C and an SD card slot allows Asus to cover all bases with this device. You are very future proofed and allows for alot of expansion. Not forgetting the fullsize HDMI output on the side. Great job!
The lid is quite thin but is protected well by a brushed metal shell which also matches the keyboard fascia too. It’s quite sturdy with the hinges giving a surprising amount of feedback when opening and closing the lid.
Build quality overall is good, even though the plastic surround of screen has a noticeable gap; probably could do with a clip. For it’s price range, whilst comparing to similar products, this is probably the sturdiest product I’ve handled.
Overall, I’m extremely happy with this product. It allows me to do many functions like a standard computer but with the clear advantages of portability and battery life. With the addition of being able to run linux on this machine, it opens the possibilities of mobile computing again. I would happily recommend this to someone who finds themselves sitting in coffee bars, or even as a cheap laptop to keep near the magazine rack in the lounge, full of features. For the price, you really cannot go wrong!
Upon making a backup of the original system files, I felt happy enough to start removing some of the bloatware and preinstalled software.
After the Third party Antivirus was removed, along with most of the bloatware, I found a noticeable improvement to battery life and system performance. System stability has not been affected, even after installing my own preferred Antivirus. As well as performance increase, I found that I have freed up a size-able amount on the internal hard drive too, which is an added bonus, even though I plan to use my USB as primary storage.
**Do this at your own risk as changes to some or all of the software may void warranty. Hence the backup.