Reviewing ASUS X302LA - An average device for the casual consumer
Every laptop manufacturer has a line of products aimed at the general consumer, the user who doesn't need unparalleled performance or the latest revolutionary designs. This user looks for average performance at an affordable price. It's exactly what the "X" series of laptops from ASUS offers. ASUS X devices are designed for casual multitasking and media entertainment. They cost less than the higher performance laptops from ASUS and they also come in attractive colours. We were happy to receive one of these laptops for testing, namely the ASUS X302LA. We had it to play with for about a week, run several benchmarks and use it everyday. Read this review to learn what we've found about ASUS X302LA:
Unboxing the ASUS X302L A
The ASUS X302LA is wrapped in a cardboard box, black on all sides, bearing the ASUS logo on the front and their latest motto, "IN SEARCH OF INCREDIBLE". The model of the laptop is printed on the side of the box.
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The cardboard box is shaped like a rudimentary suitcase and once opened, it reveals the laptop itself together with the charger unit and the usual documentation papers.
For this laptop, you have a choice of 4 CPUs offered by ASUS, all 4 of them based on an Intel chipset. These are, ordered by performance from low-end to high-end, an Intel Core i3-4030U, i3-5010U, i5-5200U and i7-5500U. The version than we had for testing is the less powerful, the one equipped with Intel Core i3-4030U.
ASUS chose the same video chip for all available versions, namely the integrated Intel HD Graphics 5500. The amount of RAM memory installed is 6 GB of DDR3 clocked at 1600MHz.
In terms of storage, ASUS offers a variety of configurations, ranging from a single 500GB hard disk to a dual configuration with a 2TB hard disk and a 24GB SSD drive or even a single 128GB SSD drive. Our model was equipped with a single 2TB hard disk drive at 5400 rpm.
For the display, you get two versions to choose from: both of them are 13.3" in size with an aspect ratio of 16:9, but the resolution can be either 1366x768 pixels or 1920x1080 pixels (Full-HD).
On the connectivity level, you get an integrated wireless LAN card capable of handling the 802.11b/g/n standards, but without 802.11ac support, a standard left out by many manufacturers in their budget models. You also have available an Ethernet LAN port, which is cleverly packed on the thin side of the unit. A Bluetooth 4.0 chip is also present.
There are two USB 2.0 ports available on the right side and one USB 3.0 port on the left side of the laptop, a VGA port and an HDMI port for connecting an external display, an SD card reader and a combo jack audio port.
The battery powering up the whole system is a 2 cells/38Wh battery.
ASUS designed this laptop for business and casual users, with portability in mind. It is fairly light and compact, so its dimensions are mod est: 32.8 cm in Width, 23.4 cm in Depth and 2.5 cm in Height. That's 12.9 inches in Width, 9.2 inches in Depth and 1 inch in Height. It weighs at 1.59kg or 3.5 lbs, making it easy to carry around.
The operating system can be Windows 8.1, 8.1 Pro, Windows 10 Home or Window 10 Pro. If you buy a model that comes with Windows 8.1 or 8.1 Pro, you can u pgrade it to Windows 10 Home or Pro, depending on the original version , for free.
Using the ASUS X302LA
The first thing you notice when you use a laptop is its design and we can safely say that we loved the design ASUS came up with for the X302LA. It features sleek lines, the materials used give it a light feel to the touch and its size and weight make it very easy to handle. The screen closes on top of the keyboard, joining edges so tight, that the line separating the two is not that obvious.
The second thing that catches your eye is the display. While the unit we had for testing was equipped with the lower resolution display (at 1366x768 pixels), the image is still crisp and offers a good level of detail.
The keys on the keyboard are pleasantly spaced and offer a great typing experience. We also liked the contrast between the black keys and the brushed metal finish of the case. It's rather nice to look at. The keys are silent and don't give too much mechanical feedback.
The power button on the top-right of the keyboard has a sleek design and integrates nicely with the keyboard.
The touchpad has nothing out of the ordinary to offer and is just as sensible as you'd expect. Its surface is slightly lowered from the outside resting area. The whole surface of the touchpad can be pressed for a left click , while the bottom-right corner of the touchpad acts as the right click.
The laptop is equipped with the SonicMaster technology, offering clear sound from the speakers .
You can find a VGA webcam installed on top of the display, but as you'd expect from an entry-level model like this, its quality is rather poor and not recommended for anything else besides occasional video chatting.
Being a fairly low-performance laptop, you'd expect its battery life to be on the high side of the scale. Instead, the fact that we only managed to keep it running on the battery test for only 3 hours and a half surprised us. On the other hand, with only 2 cells and 38Wh output, the battery doesn't have that much power to offer.
The X302LA laptop is a well-built device, in a sturdy and compact case that's easy to handle. The components are all in the "entry to mid" level in terms of performance, which makes this laptop a good choice for casual users.