ASUS N10Jc, A Performance Netbook

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Build Quality & Features

The N10 takes obvious design cues from other ASUS notebooks and ultraportables but it doesn't have much in common with the Eee PC designs. Most noticeably, the N10 isn't painted in a single solid color. The N10 is only available in a one color and we'd describe it as a very light Champaign. We want to emphasize that the color of the N10 is really dependent on the lighting conditions. In most lighting conditions the N10 appears to be a medium silver but in a brightly lit room or outside on a sunny day, it is obvious the paint job has just a touch of color tone. In our pictures, we tried our best to bring out as much color as possible but during normal everyday use the N10 spent most of its time in silver skin.

The entire top of the N10's lid and the palm rest area are covered by the light Champaign color while the rest of the laptop is black, with a single silver accent strip along the hinge area parallel to the battery. The N10 also doesn't share the tubular hinge design of the Eee's, instead sporting a more conventional and subdued design.

Ports & Expansion: The ports are spread out on the left and right side of the N10 while the rear is dominated by the battery. Our review sample came with the extended 6-cell battery which juts out from the rear of the notebook by about half an inch. The standard 3-cell battery should sit flush with the notebook. On the left side of the notebook are USB ports and the HDMI video port. The N10's only cooling vent is also located on the left side next to a Kensignton lock port, along with two mini switches. One of the switches toggles the wireless chip while the second switch toggles between the Intel integrated graphics and the discrete GeForce 9300M (requires reboot).

The right side of the has a third USB port, a VGA-out as well as the network (RJ-45) and AC-adapter ports. Also located on the right side is the ExpressCard slot and the headphone and microphone ports. Note that the microphone port also doubles as an optical S/PDIF port. This functionality can be enabled through the audio drivers. Lastly a 8-in-1 media card reader is located on the front of the laptop, under the left palm rest.

ASUS N10 - Right Side, Rear, Left Side

Webcam & Facial Recognition: The N10 is equipped with a 1.3 megapixel webcam which is built into the screen bezel above the screen along with an array microphone. The N10 is also equipped with facial recognition capability thanks to the ASUS SmartLogon utility. This allows you to optionally enable facial recognition via the webcam to log onto the system. While facial recognition is a neat feature, webcam implementations shouldn't be taken for a serious security measure since it can be simply compromised by a picture of your face. However, for home users, facial recognition could prove to be an entertaining alternative to the standard typed password or fingerprint reader.

Touchpad & Fingerprint Reader: Unlike some netbooks which use the cheaper and less functional Sentilic touchpads, the N10 sports a Synaptic touchpad with full feature support. The touchpad was responsive and scrolling works a charm. Located below the touchpad area are the left and right buttons and in between is a biometric fingerprint reader. The fingerprint reader is an AuthenTec unit with TruePrint technology with the capability of reading the live layer of skin located under skin surface. This allows for greater accuracy since the fingerprint reader bypasses the skin surface which may be altered due to various common skin conditions. The fingerprint reader can also double as a virtual scroll-wheel, although this functionality is disabled by default.

Keyboard: The N10 features a "full-size" keyboard in the sense that all of the primary letter, number and symbol keys are of standard size. Key layout is pretty typical and we like that the 'Fn' key was placed between the 'Ctrl' and Windows keys. However, some may find the right-shift key a bit on the small side and it could take some adjusting to. The keys have great tactile response and typing felt natural. Overall the keyboard never seemed cramped and we found it pleasant to type on. Score one for ASUS.

Power4 Gear: Located on the silver accent area above the keyboard are three buttons. The right-most is the power button and when the system is on, the bottom edge of the button lights up blue. The next button pulls double-duty as the Express Gate launch button when the system is off, and the Power4 Gear toggle button when the system is on. Power4 Gear is ASUS' power management utility. It allows you to create and customize power profiles and toggle between them.

ASUS N10 - Labels, Touchpad, Buttons

One Touch Magnification: The last button enables the One Touch Magnification tool. Pressing the button opens an always-on-top rectangular magnification window that follows your mouse around the screen. While the magnification is enabled, your mouse acts within the magnification window, so you can still click on things and interact with the environment. Pressing the button once enables 2x magnification, pressing the button a second time brings it to 3x. Pressing the button a third time causes the magnification window to go full-screen and a fourth press turns the magnification feature off. Overall it is a handy little tool to have, especially with a screen as small as the N10's.

Speakers: The ASUS N10 is equipped with Altec Lansing speakers, which is prominently advertised by an inlaid Altec Lansing logo above the keyboard. However hi-fi this is not. The sound quality of the speakers is fairly par for the course, for a notebook. The sound had a very noticeable hollow quality, as if the sound was coming from the inside of a tin can. Equalizer settings within the sound driver utility can greatly alleviate this issue. However what these speakers lack in sound quality, they make up with sound volume. The N10 gets plenty loud for a 10.2" netbook. The sound is also free of distortion, even at full volume, which is somewhat rare for a portable device.

The actual speakers are located on the bottom of the notebook under the palm rests. They face downward and fire down into the desk when placed on a table. An advantage to this design is it mutes the overly harsh, ringing highs common with small speakers like those in most notebooks. Indeed the N10 doesn't suffer from harshness. However this design can also lead to distorted sound and it also means the sound quality will be somewhat dependant on the surface you place them on.

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