Monday, March 11, 2013

ASUS VivoBook S400 Notebook Review

The VivoBook series is ASUS’ line of Windows 8 touchscreen notebooks made for the mainstream market. These notebooks won’t wow you with impressive specs but won’t bleed your pocket dry as well and should give casual users value for their money while maintaining its good looks.
The ASUS VivoBook S400 is the biggest notebook of the series at 14-inch (the rest are 11.6-inch) although I heard a 15-incher will be available soon. Is this the notebook you are looking for? It could be but let me help you decide further with this review.


The VivoBook S400 sports a dark brushed aluminum lid which is starting to become a trend for ASUS laptops. In fact, it matches the look of one of the best laptops we reviewed, the ASUS N56VZ, but on a smaller and thinner form.
Opening the lid will take you to MacBook country with its matte aluminum surface contrasting the black keyboard and large 3-finger multi-touch touchpad. A sole Power button is located on the top right corner above the keyboard.
asus-vivobook-s400-04 asus-vivobook-s400-05
As for ports, you’ll get a USB 3.0 port, HDMI, VGA, Ethernet and power input on the right side. On the left side is the Kensington lock, 2 USB 2.0 ports, and the headphone/mic combo port beside the SD card reader. One thing I noticed is that the USB ports cannot charge devices when the laptop is turned off.asus-vivobook-s400-06
This notebook sports a tapered edge to make it appear thinner than your conventional 14-inch notebooks, almost Ultrabook-like. The lack of optical drive contributes to the thinness of it. It’s a pretty sleek-looking laptop that you will be proud to whip out in public.
It’s also nice that the charger has a smaller footprint than the usual ones.


The 14-inch panel of the VivoBook S400 supports multi-touch and has a standard 1366 x 768 resolution. You can swipe from the bezels to navigate through the Windows 8 Start screen.
The panel is of glossy type and we got nice crisp, vibrant colors with deep black as a result. However, expect reflections from it and the brightness is just average so readability under the sun is a bit poor. On top of the display is a decent 720p HD webcam which gives bright and clear video on the other end.


The keyboard on the VivoBook S400 is not backlit and the layout seems standard for 14-inch notebook with dedicated Home, End, Page Up, and Page Down keys. All the important keys have nice sizes and there’s no out of place key anywhere.
Let me tell you that the keyboard here is one of the most comfortable ones I’ve used on a laptop. The soft keys have very good and even tactile feedback (although on the shallow end which I didn’t mind) and the spacing and size are just right. I would give an A for the keyboard and the only thing that’s keeping it from getting an A+ is the lack of backlighting which some people often need.
The large touchpad is very responsive and doesn’t give me unnecessary mouse jumps while typing on the keyboard. It supports 3-finger gestures as well as swipes from the the outside to bring out some Windows 8 menus.


As most current ASUS laptops, the VivoBook S400 uses the exclusive ASUS SonicMaster audio technology for impactful audio with deep bass and wide range range. It’s one of the most pleasing traits of this notebook. Whether you’re playing games, watching movies, or just listening to music, you’ll get a solid and clear audio coming from this machine. I didn’t have any problems listening to dialogues from my Suits marathon and I enjoyed using this machine for some Spotify music surfing.


The VivoBook S400 is equipped with a Core i5-3317U, a low-power dual-core processor clocking at 1.7GHz but goes up to 2.6GHz with Intel’s TurboBoost. It also uses 4GB RAM and a 24GB SSD for caching plus 500GB of hard disk storage. Below is the Windows Experience Index for it:
With the lack of a dedicated GPU, the VivoBook S400 is not made for heavy gaming, or gaming with high settings. It can handle light Photoshop work and some casual games or heavy multitasking though. Boot up from cold start clocked at 30 seconds. The SSD helped in keeping the resume time from standby really quick (2-3 seconds) and boosts application launch time. I did experience occasional stuttering or lag while in the middle of surfing. Not sure if it’s because of the McAfee doing its scheduled scans or a browser/flash thing while streaming videos.

Battery Life

The VivoBook S400 uses a Li-Po battery which can give you far more charge cycles than the typical Li-Ion ones. It is rated at 5200mAh which gave me around 4 – 5 hours with WiFi always on while surfing, doing some typing, and a bit of YouTube here and there. The notebook doesn’t get too hot on the underside and a just a little bit warm on the palm rest so heat is definitely not an issue here. There’s little to no system noise as well.


ASUS has come up with a more than just your basic touchscreen 14-inch laptop with the VivoBook S400. Sure it doesn’t have a full-powered processor nor a dedicated GPU but if you’re looking for a laptop for casual computing, you’ll get a sleek and thin design, speedy start and wake-up times, great-sounding speakers, and a comfortable keyboard and touchpad out of this machine.
The ASUS VivoBook S400 retails for just Php35,995 which is the most affordable Core i5 touchscreen notebook in the market of this size.
ASUS VivoBook S400VA Specs:
1.7GHz 3rd Generation Intel Core i5-3317U, TurboBoost up to 2.6GHz
14″ HD Slim (1366×758) LED Backlit multitouch display
Intel HD Graphics 4000 (128MB)
Windows 8 OS
No optical drive
Bluetooth 4.0
1x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, SD card reader, VGA, Ethernet, HDMI
HD webcam
1.8 kg.
SRP: Php35,995

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