Asus is a prominent player in the PC market and it recently unveiled the latest VivoBook laptops trying to redefine the affordable and mid-range segment. The VivoBook series is different from the ZenBook lineup, which is aimed at bringing power laptops with a budget in mind. The VivoBook 14 is one such recent entrant, which is well balanced in various aspects of performance, portability and pricing.
Asus VivoBook 14 bags the latest processors and comes in three models. The base variant with Intel Core i3-7020U processor is priced at Rs 33,990, while the higher end models with 8th gen Intel Core i5-8265U costs Rs 54,990 and if you wish to get 2GB NVIDIA GeForce MX230 graphics card then the machine will cost Rs 59,990. Unless you're into gaming, you can choose between the first two variants and save a few bucks.
We have been testing the top-end variant of the VivoBook 14, which worked well as the daily driver. Here's how Asus justifies that price tag attached to the VivoBook 14.
Design and display
Asus isn't out there to rule the ramp with the VivoBook 14, but it looks pretty decent and elegant. The matte plastic covering the top with Asus logo at the center. The 14-inch display is surrounded by fairly slim bezels, which is pleasing to the eyes and that 87-percent screen-to-body ratio is indeed satisfying while watching movies or playing games.
The base of the laptop with the keyboard is to the point. The touchpad takes the usual spot and the keys are spaced out comfortably to avoid any mistypes. Asus VivBook 14 uses the space very well in the keyboard area, which by the way is backlit. There is a 3-level setting for the backlit keyboard's brightness or you can choose to turn it off, which was mostly the case for me unless I was working in a dark room. And the touchpad has a tiny fingerprint reader, which was a life-saving feature for me as I never had to fill out the password or use Windows Hello.
Coming back to the 14-inch display, it looks good for day-to-day tasks. I used the VivoBook 14 as my daily driver for a week and didn't feel the need for an upgrade in the display as my work mainly involved a lot of typing, browsing and watching videos. But the urge to watch high-def movies or play games with high graphics is not ideally suitable for VivoBook 14.
But for those who do a lot of typing and wish to look beyond Apple for a comfortable and light laptop, Asus VivoBook 14 won't disappoint. The keys land perfectly with a reassuring tap, and I rarely had any instances of errors while typing out documents or writing reviews (including this one).
The ErgoLift Hinge might not be the flagship feature, but it sure did boost typing with a slight 2-degree lift in the unfolded position. I loved the inclusion of the Type-C port alongside the HDMI, microSD card, 3 USB ports, a 3.5mm headphone jack and the charging port. But I was equally disappointed with the placement of the speakers under the base corners.
Depending on VivoBook 14 for a whole week did not make me regret the choice. From working out of the office while covering events to typing out reviews on a flight and even catching up on TV shows seemed to be handled well. It's fast and that comes from a MacBook user. But again, we have only been using it for a week, and the laptop is brand new with little to no content onboard.
Browsing the web, binge-watching TV shows, listening to music and working with some offline files did not strain the processor and it impressively handled multiple tasks at once with ease.
The fingerprint scanner on the touchpad is a boon to VivoBook 14. It works efficiently and it is extremely fast. There was no room for error, in fact, I rarely punched in the password or used Windows Hello to log in. The multi-finger taps and swipes also worked fairly well on the touchpad, which is quite responsive. For that, you'd need to be familiar with Windows 10.
Moving on, the down-firing SonicMaster speakers on both sides of the VivoBook 14 is not the laptop's strongest suit. If you're watching a movie or a video with max volume alone, it will be fine. But don't expect to host a marathon for your favourite TV show with your friends as it can barely entertain a large group even in a small room. Although a speaker could fix the issue, I expected the sound to be better and louder.
If you can look past the audio, VivoBook 14 is a solid mainstream laptop that can be trusted for most tasks.
Switching from a MacBook to any other laptop demands a good battery life. Asus VivoBook 14 is not the best one out there, but it can get the job done for the most part. On average use, I was able to get up to 5 hours on a single charge and that involved working extensively with Chrome, offline files and a bit of video. Gaming is out of the equation if you want this laptop to last longer than its capacity.
Asus VivoBook 14 has some strong points, such as its comfortable design, bright display, great keyboard and performance. But it loses out in some areas like the battery and audio quality. Is it worth the asking price? Well, that would depend on what is your requirement from a laptop. For someone whose work involves a lot of browsing and typing on-the-go, VivoBook 14 is worth settling for.