The Asus Bamboo is a laptop computer from Asus that's supposedly made from bamboo wood. Looking at the machine, the top of the lid and the palm rest has a dark "smoky brown" wood finish. It has a very smooth finish so doesn't feel like wood (luckily) but it does looks very classy and does get many people commenting. Many of whom doubt that it's really made of bamboo but I will take Asus's word for it! It comes in 13", 14" and 15" sizes but only the 14 and 15" model come with an optical drive (DVD RW drive). I have the 13" version because I wanted something smaller and lighter as I carry mine around for work. At the time of purchase, only the 13" and 15" were available.
SPECIFICATIONS AND DESIGN
I've been using this machine for the past 8 months or so, and bought it online for £760. One odd thing is that I find I have t press the power button twice before the machine turns on (very strange). I find the design to be quite attractive with its smoky wood effect and chrome rim. When I first took it out of the box and peeled off the protective stickers, the manufacturer stickers (i.e. Intel, NVidia) on the palm rest came off as well, which I thought was weird but this was to keep the palm rest smooth. (Not sure why they even bothered with them.) The touchpad and button is also in the wood effect so it's like they're not even there, which is quite unique but takes a bit of getting used to.
The keyboard is the Chiclet sort, which have keys with gaps between them. I tend to prefer these as I find them to be easier to type with because it's harder to hit the wrong key. Despite my preference, I first found that I was making a lot of typos (I touch type). I think that this is due to the keys being quite 'mushy' so I have to hit them a bit harder. I have the same sort of keyboard on my Apple Macbook Pro and find that a dream to use but I feel that the one on the Macbook Pro is much better quality. The rest of the machine feels very solid with no plastic clicking. The area around the keyboard is metallic.
The machine has a fast Intel i5 2.53GHz processor and 4GB RAM. It has a 500GB hard drive and comes preinstalled with Microsoft Windows Home Premium 64bit. A good fast processor and a fair bit of RAM helps the machine run smoothly, which is part of the reason for my chance. I can't stand slow machines so typically pay a bit more for something that's well built as well as having good spec and good battery life.
In terms of performance, the machine was loaded with a lot of 'bloatware', which is the trial software, games (including Angry Birds), etc, which I found slowed down the machine quite a bit. I have reinstalled Windows 7 making it much quicker again. One complaint though is that Asus didn't include any restore media (i.e. Windows 7 Home Premium disc), which I thought was a bit cheap of them, with this supposedly being more of a premium brand as opposed to Acer. Luckily, I have my own copies but I always prefer that they include the media rather than them expecting you to back up the whole thing with the preinstalled backup software onto a hard drive or about 10 blank DVDs.
It came with Webroot Internet Security (which I flogged on eBay), which was nice of them. 500GB of hard disk space (443GB to be exact when in Windows) is ample space for most for music and videos.
The battery life is quoted to be 10 hours and I believe I get a good 7-8 hours use out if it throughout the day doing things like Internet surfing, document editing, etc. The 10 hour figure is typically from leaving the machine idle, which isn't realistic but 8 hours is pretty decent. It can switch between modes for performance and battery life by pressing a button.
My 13.3" Bamboo, unfortunately, doesn't have a DVD drive built-in so I have to use an external USB one (which I already owned). One of the reasons for opting for a smaller laptop is so that it isn't as heavy. Unfortunately, I still feel that this laptop is too heavy for such a small sized laptop considering it doesn't have an optical drive. On my digital scales, it weighs 2.05Kg. I have a 12" Toshiba laptop, which is ridiculously light and even that has an optical drive.
The screen is glossy and wide screen but I've not had any issues with reflections. The glossy black bezel surrounding the screen can pick up fingerprints though.
It has a VGA connector and HDMI outputs so you can connect it up to an external monitor or TV. To watch stuff on a bigger screen or to run dual display. It also has something called Wireless Display, which lets it transmit the picture to a monitor wirelessly BUT...you need to purchase a separate box for this. This accessory costs around £60 so I've not bothered. Nice idea but only worth it if you'd use it regularly. Otherwise, an HDMI or VGA lead will do the job for most.
SD Card reader, which is good to have for those with a digital camera (an SD card one). It has a total of 3 USB ports, with one being the newer USB 3.0, which is good bit of future proofing. Wireless is built in as standard and it is Wireless N rather than the older G, which supposedly gives a better range and faster speeds, so a 'must' for me. It also has Bluetooth, which is handy for transferring data to and from certain mobile phones.
It has a webcam built in, which is not uncommon nowadays but Asus were nice enough to include an on/off slider above the webcam lens, which covers the lens when in the 'off' position. This is great for those paranoid about whether someone's spying on them through the webcam or not. There was a news article a while back whereby university Apple laptops loaned out to students had pre-installed software on them, which enabled the university IT guy to log onto each laptop and activate the webcam thus seeing the students. This was found out as there's a light next to the webcam lens to indicate when the webcam is live or not. In theory, a hacker or virus could also take control of a computer's webcam thus sending video back to the hacker.
- Long battery life
- Nice design
- 1x USB 3.0 port
- Webcam privacy switch feature
- Good performance and spec
- No optical drive (in 13" model)
- Bit on the heavy side
- Keyboard isn't great
- Too much random software preinstalled and no recovery media included
Nice laptop. Could have done with being a bit lighter and including an optical drive and maybe less mushy keyboard but otherwise, a nice performer once you've set it up the way you want it (reloaded, so no unnecessary software). The specification is good and it's well built. Recommended.
Thanks for reading.