Display and Sound
That was and still is our reaction to the display on this laptop. It is quite simply one of the best we’ve ever seen, especially at this price level. By all means, laptop screens are going through something of a renaissance at the moment thanks to the competition from high quality tablet screens but nonetheless the quality offered here still leaps out.
Overall image quality and viewing angles are exceptional.
Thanks to the use of an IPS panel, viewing angles are flawless with very little contrast drop off or colour shift, no matter from what angle you’re viewing it. Colour reproduction is also excellent as is brightness, and that matte screen keeps the distraction from reflections to a minimum. The only issue we have is that you can’t turn it off completely at the touch of a button – something us journalists find very useful when touch-typing during a press conference.
There is some light leakage around the some of the corners and edges but it's very minimal. Note that the glare in the top right of this image is the reflection from a bit of light leaking into the room, not from the screen.
Sadly sound quality is not in the same ballpark, with very little bass on offer. That said stereo separation is pretty good, providing a reasonable amount of depth when watching movies – especially when those rear facing speakers have a flat surface to reflect off. All told they’re adequate.
Keyboard and Trackpad
Back into more positive territory, the keyboard is largely a pleasure to type on. The keys inevitably have a very shallow action but there’s a defined break and little flex, making for a stable typing platform. The layout is also very good and you can specify UK, US, German and French layouts.
Only three brightness levels are offered for the keyboard – off, low and high – but we found they offered sufficient adjustability for our needs. There is no zonal lighting option, though – it’s all white or nothing.
The trackpad is arguably the biggest let down so far of this laptop as it’s rather small and doesn’t offer the single clickable surface that most now do. For its size and style, though, it’s not too bad. Tracking is effortlessly accurate and the buttons are good enough to get by. You can of course also tap the surface (rather than press it) if you want to avoid using the buttons. Multi-touch gestures are also supported.
Noise and heat
One thing that did stand out to us in use was quite how hot this laptop gets when gaming, particularly the underside on the left. The desk below where the hot air exhausts also gets quite a hair dryer treatment so you may have to be a little careful using this laptop on a finely French-polished table.
The fan can also be quite obtrusive, kicking in at high speed all of a sudden while doing normal desktop tasks, as well as going full tilt while gaming. We’ve never been particularly bothered by this sort of thing but certainly it would be preferable to have a more gradual fan profile. Schenker says it has actually improved this in the latest models but we're not able to test this.
One final point before moving onto performance testing, we weren't impressed with the power button, which requires quite a bit of precise force to respond.