The Bottom Line
Nov 27 2012 - With its base features and price tag, the ASUS VivoBook S400CA-DH51T is not that different from most other ultrabooks. What sets it apart from them though is the 14-inch touchscreen display which is very beneficial to the Windows 8 experience but at a price similar to competing 14-inch ultrabooks. There are a number of smaller issues that do plague the system including a low resolution webcam and a trackpad that has a number of problems but most of these can be worked around fairly easily.
- Touchscreen Display Very Useful With Windows 8
- Affordable For Features
- Above Average Build Quality
- Trackpad Has Multitouch Gesture Issues
- Webcam Is Just VGA Resolution
- Intel Core i5-3317U Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 4GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
- 500GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive with 24GB Solid State Drive Cache
- 14" WXGA (1366x768) Multitouch Display With VGA Webcam
- Intel HD Graphics 4000 Integrated Graphics
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- One USB 3.0, Two USB 2.0, HDMI, VGA, SD Card Slot
- 13.3" x 9.4" x .8" @ 4 lbs.
- Windows 8, Office Starter
Review - ASUS VivoBook S400CA-DH51T
Nov 27 2012 - The ASUS VivoBook S400CA-DH51T at first glance has an appearance very similar to the Zenbook UX32A. It features a lid and display with a black finish that is prone to fingerprints and smudges while the keyboard deck uses a silver plastic with black keyboard. The system is an ultrabook that uses a larger 14-inch display but really doesn't differentiate itself in most of the features beyond a larger screen size with touchscreen capabilities. It is relatively light at just four pounds and .8-inches thick.
Like many of the more affordable ultrabooks, the ASUS VivoBook uses a combination of a hard drive and solid state drive for caching. The primary storage is handled by a 500GB hard drive that provides a good deal of space but spins at a slower 5400rpm rate to help reduce battery drain. This is supplemented by a 24GB solid state drive cache that helps reduce boot and application load times. A cold boot into Windows 8 took approximately 15 seconds to complete while waking from sleep took about three. This is far faster than a hard drive only based laptop but slightly slower than SSD only ultrabooks. If you do need additional storage space, ASUS has included a USB 3.0 port for use with high speed external storage. It would have been nice to see more than one of these ports but the remaining two are of the older USB 2.0 speed. AS with most ultrabooks, there is no DVD drive in the laptop.
The standout feature of the VivoBook S400CA is the multitouch capable display which really helps with the new Windows 8 modern interface. The 14-inch display does only run at a 1366x768 which is typical of most low cost ultrabook systems. Overall, the touchscreen was responsive and the colors and brightness levels were good but not outstanding. The glass will build up smudges over time if the touchscreen is used frequently over the trackpad. It is also very reflective which means that using it outdoors or in bright light will cause a lot of reflections which requires increasing of the brightness which will reduce battery life. The graphics themselves are driven by the Intel HD Graphics 4000 that are built into the Core i5 processor. This does an adequate job for most uses but still lacks 3D performance for any 3D gaming. What it does provide though is the ability to accelerate media encoding when using Quick Sync enabled applications.
Like most recent versions of ASUS laptops, the VivoBook uses a chiclet style of keyboard. It is nicely sized for the laptop and offers a comfortable and accurate typing experience. The only real downside is that it does not feature backlighting but that is something that is not terribly common at the $700 price point. The trackpad is quite large for the laptop but has its issues. First, there seems to be a fair amount of gap on the edges. Second, the multitouch gestures for Windows 8 had issue being recognized at times where it was better to use the touchscreen for better accuracy.
The battery for the ASUS VivoBook S400CA is internal with a rated capacity of 44WHr. This is slightly lower than you typical 14-inch laptop battery but still very close. In my digital video playback testing, the laptop was able to run for just over four and a half hours before going into standby mode. This is above average for a 14-inch class ultrabook with a hard drive and SSD caching setup such as the Lenovo IdeaPad U410. Of course, it falls well behind the Apple MacBook Pro 15 with Retina that lasts and amazing seven hours but with a battery nearly twice that capacity of the ASUS.
In terms of competition, there are two categories that the VivoBook S400CA has. First, is the 14-inch ultrabooks that don't have a touchscreen. This include the Lenovo IdeaPad U410 and the Toshiba Satellite U845. Both of these cost around $700 like the ASUS ultrabook with similarly levels of performance and features. The Lenovo offers a better keyboard and trackpad combination but has worse battery life. The Toshiba is somewhat slower but longer running times. In terms of touschreen equipped laptops, the Acer Aspire V5 571P is the closet in price and features but is larger with a 15.6-inch display and a DVD drive making it heavier and larger and with much shorter running times.