A few days ago I bought a Windows laptop, my first Windows 10 machine and my first Windows computer in decades. But this is mainly a hardware review, Windows is Windows no matter what it is running on, so I will save most of my adventures with Win10 for a separate post.
I searched Amazon high and low trying to find something suitable, new, at my price point, that I didn’t have to wait a week to get. And I was pretty well stymied with every laptop there was always something missing. Finally out of desperation, I clicked on Amazon’s Choice recommended lineup for laptops. And that is where I found my Asus Vivobook Thin and Light 14” laptop. (How’s that for a mouthful?) Frankly, it was a little more than I wanted to spend but it was about the only laptop that had all the features I really wanted and wasn’t on back order or something. It was in stock and ready to ship.
The computer arrived on time. The box contained the laptop, two small booklets and the AC power source. That’s it. Frankly that is all you need. One booklet was a Getting Started guide, fast read, easy to understand. The second, much thicker, booklet was written by lawyers and bean counters so I put it aside without looking at it. I liked that there was not a lot of disks or loose papers - clean and neat.
Here are the features that made the Asus Vivobook stand out:
- 14” FHD screen. There is more selection in the 15.6” laptop category but I wanted something more portable.
- 8 GB RAM minimum.
- Intel i7 processor. I really wasn’t picky on this point. It could have been an i5. This will do the job. I did want Intel.
- 256GB SSD no more spinning disks for me.
- Backlit keyboard.
- Standard connectors.
- Thin and Light :-)
- Decent battery life for it’s size and weight.
Impressions in actual use:
- Color: Case is metal. A sort of champagne tint aluminum. Actually looks good. I’m not picky as long as it is NOT pink, plum, red, etc. The unit feels very light, lighter than my 13” MacBook Pro.
- Screen: excellent. Nice FHD, bright, easy to read.
- Backlit keyboard: the back lighting is excellent. About the best I have used.
- Keyboard: Minor thing, I would prefer a little more cupping for the finger pads in the keys. It’s not a deal breaker but it would be nice. No problems with key travel and the keys are well placed.
- Fan: the fan kicks in when the unit is downloading a honking big Windows 10 update. It’s Windows so not unexpected.
- Speakers: they seem clear, I have not tried them for music yet.
- Power Cord: good length.
- Finger Print Sensor: it has it. I have not used it.
- Weight: it feels lighter than my Macbook Pro.
Everything on the Asus seems to be well made.
OEM Software:Asus and Microsoft did not garbage the laptop up with to much bloatware. Most of it is standard on any Windows computer. My first job was uninstalling the critical stuff I did not want plus getting rid of the MS “warm and fuzzy” software, like games, I will never use.
Uninstalled:McAffee Anti virus (and more) trial software. My experience is McAfee (and Norton) are system hogs. See below for my replacements.
Silenced Cortana: this is just my personal preference. Cortana is decent, if you like it keep it on, I just don’t like things talking to me.
Games: I’m not a gamer so Candy Crush could go. Minecraft and more went too.
MS Office Trial: I don’t need it and I’m not going to pay for it. (See below.)
Tiles: Those things in the Windows menu tray left over from Windows 8. They take up a lot of memory so I got rid of them.
Google Chrome: Google has this loaded with ways to track you. I got rid of it.
Replacements:Antivirus: AVG Anti virus free. I’ve used AVG on Windows, Mac and Android for many years.
Anti ransomware: Cybereason RansomFree (free). Always defend in depth.
Office: WPS Office (free) also came on the laptop. I already have WPS on my Android phone and it seems decent for me as little as I use it, anyway I kept it. A free heavy duty office suite is LibreOffice which is great if you want more.
Browser: I installed Vivaldi which is my favorite and takes care of my privacy concerns. Normally I would also install Firefox, to have a backup browser, but Win10 comes with Edge browser which you cannot uninstall so I will use that as a backup for now.
eMail: Win10 comes with a program “Mail” which looks like a modern version of Outlook. It’s attractive. Some people have reported problems with it, so I took some advice and installed Mailbird, which I like so far.
That’s it, you have to root around Win10 to change defaults but that is a Windows thing. None of this software swapping in any way reflects badly on Asus, I would do the same with any Windows 10 computer.
One final thing: I think this is under Windows Settings >> Privacy, I shut down all tracking and reporting Win 10 sends to Microsoft. If you use Cortana, you might need some of it but I don’t so I shut it all down.