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 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 found in slim notebooks. In fact, the VivoBook has a bigger battery than many 15-inch gaming laptops.
In our video-loop battery test, the 14-inch VivoBook clocked around 12.5hr with the screen brightness set to maximum. This is two hours longer than our previous endurance champion, the LG gram laptop, which managed 10hr35min, albeit with a slightly 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 won't raise any eyebrows with its thickness (16.5mm).
The mainstream VivoBook sits below Asus' premium ZenBook laptops. Unsurprisingly, the former is plain and workmanlike 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 does have a fingerprint sensor at the top right corner of its touchpad for secure authentication. It also has a built-in security chip, known as a Trusted Platform Module (TPM), that enables hardware encryption on the laptop.
• 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
I am impressed by its build quality. The all-aluminium chassis feels sturdy, as if it could handle knocks and bumps 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 high altitude and high humidity.
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 does offer good viewing angles. In keeping with current trends, the borders around the screen are pleasingly narrow, a feature that also helps to minimise the laptop's footprint.
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.