Everyone loves sleek, lightweight laptops but their ultra-thin bodies often come at the expense of battery stamina.
Not so for the Asus VivoBook S14 (Z403). Asus says this laptop can last up to 24 hours on a single charge, albeit with the screen set to a relatively dim 150 nits of luminance. This is thanks to a massive 72 watt-hour battery that is significantly larger than the ones in slim notebooks. In fact, the VivoBook has a bigger battery than many 15-inch gaming laptops.
In The Straits Times' video-loop battery test, the 14-inch VivoBook clocked around 121/2 hours with the screen brightness set to maximum. This is two hours longer than the previous endurance champion, the LG gram laptop, which managed 10 hours and 35 minutes, but with a larger and more power-hungry 15-inch screen.
To its credit, the VivoBook comes in at a reasonable weight and girth. It weighs 1.35kg, which is handy enough, though not as portable as the latest sub-1kg laptops. It also will not raise eyebrows with its thickness (16.5mm).
The mainstream VivoBook sits below Asus' premium ZenBook laptops and is plain and workman-like, with Asus seemingly saving its best designs for the stylish ZenBook. But being bland could be a good thing, especially in a conservative business setting.
While the VivoBook is not designed for business users in mind, it has a fingerprint sensor at the top right corner of its touchpad for secure authentication. Its built-in security chip, known as a Trusted Platform Module, also enables hardware encryption.
I am impressed by its build quality. The all-aluminium chassis feels sturdy, as if it could handle knocks without a hitch. Asus says the laptop has been tested to meet military-grade standards for durability and reliability and will work in more extreme conditions such as high altitude.
•Excellent battery life
•Solid and sturdy build
•Good selection of ports, no dongle required
•Plain vanilla design
•Display looks slightly dull
PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-8565U (1.8GHz)
GRAPHICS: Intel UHD Graphics 620
RAM: 8GB DDR4
SCREEN SIZE: 14 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels
CONNECTIVITY: USB Type-C 3.1 Gen 1, 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, HDMI, SD card reader, headphone jack
BATTERY: 72 watt-hour
VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5
BATTERY LIFE: 5/5
Its island-style, backlit keyboard barely exhibited any flex while I was typing. But it is, like many ultrabooks, rather shallow and does not offer the most satisfying typing experience.
The display, while decent, is not the VivoBook's best feature. Colours do not quite pop on this matt screen, but it offers good viewing angles.
Unlike ultra-slim laptops that are too thin to accommodate a full-size USB Type-A port or HDMI port, the VivoBook does not have this issue. It does not require a dongle as the laptop comes with two USB ports and a HDMI port. It also includes an SD card reader.
Its only nod to newer interfaces is a single USB-C port, but it does not have a Thunderbolt 3 port for the fastest possible data transfers.