ASUS Lamborghini VX2
- Solid construction, comfortable to use, good multitasking and media-encoding performance, excellent battery life
- Speakers aren't loud enough, touchpad buttons are too shallow, very noticeable vibration from optical drive
Overall, the Lamborghini VX2 is solidly constructed and has good features and speed for everyday tasks, and some gaming. The Lamborghini styling is a real head-turner and, ultimately, it's what you're paying for.
Price$ 3,699.00 (AUD)
The VX2 is a collaborative effort between ASUS and Italian car manufacturer Lamborghini, and it's aimed at those of you who want to own a prestigious and exotic-looking notebook. The VX2's bodywork features the car manufacturer's badge as well as leather trimming and metallic paint, while the engine room is full of ASUS' most efficient components.
An Intel Core 2 Duo T7400 CPU running at 2.16GHz gives the Lamborghini plenty of speed, and its 2GB of DDR2 667MHz RAM allows it to comfortably handle multitasking. A 160GB hard drive (with a formatted capacity of 144GB) provides a roomy interior for Windows Vista Ultimate, personal data and applications, and ASUS has partitioned this drive so that you can store your data separately from your operating system and applications.
In our performance tests, the Lamborghini showed good speed for everyday tasks and media encoding. It encoded 53min worth of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3s in 2min 11sec, which is spot-on for a notebook with a T7400 CPU. In WorldBench 6, the machine excelled in the WinZip compression and 3ds Max 3-D rendering tests, but was a little sluggish in the multitasking test. For gaming, the Lamborghini has a 512MB NVIDIA GeForce Go 7700 graphics processing unit (GPU), which scored 2343 in 3DMark06. It's capable of producing decent frame-rates in many current DirectX 9-based games, but it's not powerful enough to play them with high image-detail enabled.
The Lamborghini's 15.4in glossy screen is housed in a toughened lid that's rigid and held by strong hinges in a latch-less design. It has a native resolution of 1680x1050 and is suitably bright for productivity applications, games and videos. While watching DVDs we observed decent clarity, without excessive blotchiness and we liked the screen's colour reproduction, which wasn't overly rich. Text and images are well-defined when working in office applications and browsing the Web.
A 1.3 mega-pixel Web cam and microphone are built in to the top of the screen and these are suitable for video conferencing via Windows Live Messenger, for example. The Web cam can either be user-facing or outward-facing (it can be turned 180 degrees). It produces clear images and even manages to capture video in dark environments, but the frame rate is slow and motion produces plenty of streaking. The built-in microphone isn't effective, so if you want to record a normal speaking voice, you'll have to plug in an external microphone.
The VX2's connectivity is ample for modern devices. It has three USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire port, an SD/MS Pro memory card reader, an ExpressCard slot, infrared, VGA, S-Video Out and HDMI. The HDMI port provides an easy connection to a big-screen television, but you'll have to connect the audio output port to a receiver if you want home-theatre sound. Stereo speakers are also built in to the Lamborghini, but they aren't loud enough. We recommend headphones or external speakers for listening to music.
A DVD re-writer, with support for DVD+/-R/RW single-layer discs and DVD+R double-layer discs is part of the configuration and it also supports Lightscribe - a feature that allows you to burn labels directly onto Lightscribe-capable discs. While watching DVDs, we did notice more vibration than usual from the drive, which was felt throughout the notebook and on the desk we were using it on. The location of the burner is just under the palm-rest, which can be a vulnerable place for a burner. On some notebooks, picking up the notebook from the corner where the burner is located can lead to excessive bending of the chassis, an involuntary tray ejection, or even scraped discs. On the Lamborghini, the build quality of the chassis is solid, but discs will still scrape if you lift the notebook from the corner where the burner is while a disc is spinning. We don't recommend lifting notebooks with one hand from the corners - we do it for testing purposes only.
The weight of the VX2 is 3.2kg, and combined with its 15.1in screen, it's not the most mobile notebook on the market. In saying this, you probably wouldn't want to use it on public transport for fear of it being scratched. Regardless, ASUS does supply a leather carry case, which makes it comfortable to transport the Lamborghini to the office or to meetings while carrying the supplied Bluetooth mouse and leather mouse mat.
For security, ASUS supplies its own custom security application - Security Protect Manager. This can be used to register fingerprints via the built in fingerprint scanner. The scanner registered fingerprints without too much fuss, but some scans did require multiple attempts.
The Lamborghini comes with 802.11n wireless networking built in, but our test unit only had an 802.11a/b/g module. We used ASUS' Net 4Switch software to configure the module for our WPA-enabled network, and we didn't have any problems connecting to the Internet. A gigabit Ethernet port is also present, and can provide wired network throughput of around 18MBps when paired with a gigabit router and other gigabit-capable computers. The Lamborghini's battery life was tested by our DVD run-down test, in which we loop a DVD until the fully-charged battery is exhausted. This test works the CPU, the DVD drive, the screen and the speakers, and it's considered a worst-case scenario. The Lamborghini lasted almost two hours (one hour 58 minutes), which is an excellent result and means you'll probably be able to watch most movies without having to recharge.
To gain more battery life, you can use ASUS' own Power4Gear eXtreme software. This allows for four different profiles to be set - high performance, entertainment, quiet office or battery saving - and these can be invoked by pressing the dedicated shortcut-button just above the keyboard. The wireless networking and Bluetooth modules can be easily switched off by also pressing dedicated buttons above the keyboard. From the BIOS, the brightness of the screen can be set to dim automatically when the notebook is not plugged in to the mains. In addition to these networking, security and power utilities, ASUS supplies Norton Internet Security. All of these are set to start when Windows Vista Ultimate loads, so the total boot-up time of the Lamborghini is around 80 seconds.
Using the Lamborghini is a joy. Its keyboard is solid and the keys provide good response and travel, and hardly make a noise when pressed. The leather palm-rest feels good to the touch and white LEDs, which are easy on the eye, show hard drive activity and let you know which modules (Bluetooth, for example) are currently switched on. A Synaptics touchpad is used to control the cursor and allows you to vertically and horizontally scroll, but the left and right mouse buttons located under it were shallow and not easy to press.
The VX2 didn't get hot during our day-long tests. The bottom only got slightly warm and there was hardly any noticeable warmth around the palm-rest and keyboard areas. A vent resides on the right-hand side of the notebook, and an exhaust fan does a good job of almost-silently extracting the heat from the notebook's enclosure.
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