ASUS F6V-3P182E

ASUS' new smellbook: is it scent-tastic or a bit of a stinker?

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ASUS F6V-3P182E
  • ASUS F6V-3P182E
  • ASUS F6V-3P182E
  • ASUS F6V-3P182E

Pros

  • Wide array of expansion ports, looks attractive

Cons

  • Has an unpleasant smell (at least we thought so), speakers are too quiet

Bottom Line

Even though we respect ASUS for being innovative with its notebook designs, the ASUS F6V-3P182E with its "musk" scent is too whiffy. But if you can get past the smell, a decent 13.3in notebook can be yours for $1599.

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The 13.3in ASUS F6V-3P182E has an arty lid design, a great variety of ports and could have been a strong choice for non-business users on the move. However its major flaw is also its unique selling point: a built-in smell.

ASUS has been experimenting with interesting design concepts, as shown by the U6 Bamboo (U6V-2P048G) — a notebook that was partially constructed of wood.

The smellbook (scent-top?) we received is dubbed Musky Black and according to ASUS emits "power, daring, and energy with its playfulness and musky scent". Unfortunately what it actually produces is an odour we felt was akin to an in-car air-freshener.

It fades in a matter of hours, but the scent will regenerate after being kept in an enclosed location like a laptop bag. According to ASUS, using the notebook in an open area may shorten the fragrance lifespan (and unfortunately the scent isn't covered by the warranty).

Other models and fragrances are available, and individual tastes may vary. We recommend that buyers smell their prospective purchases before completing the deal. And that's not a line we thought we'd ever have to put in a review.

The F6V is attractive with an interesting and colourful floral design complementing the black lid. If you're looking for something to set you apart from the crowd, this is a good-looking option. The chassis has a solid feel to it and the screen has very little flex.

Notebooks in this series have 13.3in screens which deliver a native resolution of 1280x800. Although the horizontal viewing angle is good, the vertical viewing angle is quite narrow. When displaying images and movies the F6V performs well and provides adequate brightness and bold colours.

The two speakers that sit just below the screen are far too quiet and the sound quality is underwhelming. The keyboard is mostly good, but certain keys have been reduced in width, including important keys such as Ctrl, the cursor keys and backspace. This issue aside, all keys provide excellent bounce-back and are suitable for marathon typing sessions.

Although the touchpad tracks accurately and is easy to use, the left- and right-click buttons below it are too firm and require extra effort to press. F6V owners will eventually get used to putting more force into their selections.

The F6V comes with 2GB of DDR2 RAM and a 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5800 CPU. In our iTunes test, where we convert 53min of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3s, the F6V performed the task in 1min 29sec, which is in line with the similarly priced Toshiba Satellite U400 / H00 (PSU44A-00H00C). Our Blender rendering test was completed in 1min 33sec.

The built-in ATI Mobility Radeon HD3470 graphics processor returned a 3DMark06 score of 1697, which means that games newer than F.E.A.R. will not run smoothly if you don't use the lowest settings — if they run at all. Storage is provided by a 250GB hard drive that spins at 5400rpm.

The sides of the F6V are adorned with an impressive array of expansion ports. Apart from the usual USB 2.0 ports (it has three), there is also a D-Sub port, HDMI-output and an e-SATA port. An ExpressCard/34 slot and a 4-in-1 card reader (SD, MMC, MS, MSPro) can be found on the left side of the chassis.

Users looking for portability will like the fact that the F6V weighs 2.2kg without the power supply and 2.7kg with it included, which is the average for a laptop this size. ASUS has provided a 3-cell and a 6-cell battery, with the latter lasting an above average 1hr 40min in our battery rundown tests.

The F6V has the latest in network connectivity and comes with a Gigabit Ethernet port and an 802.11n wireless adapter. A Bluetooth radio is also built-in.

Here's the bottom line: although this laptop is well-priced with decent hardware and an excellent variety of ports, the smell is very strong and can't be switched off. If you are happy with the scent, and you're sure you can put up with it for months, then the ASUS F6V-3P182E is a worthwhile 13.3in option.

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