Looking at the system as a whole, we find that ASUS has chosen to use a very elegant brushed aluminum finish throughout the majority of the notebook. Although much darker than the traditional brushed aluminum aesthetic, the look still retains a rich and modern feel. Carrying our attention towards the edges of the system, we see that there have been great efforts made towards rounding off as many sharp angles as possible. Keeping with this tradition of remaining as clean as possible, ASUS has opted to use a magnetic latch system instead of a mechanical latch. Though this makes opening the unit slightly more difficult, the uncluttered appearance seems a worthwhile trade.
Conventional notebook users might initially be disappointed if they skip to the back of the system searching for ports. Here, the hinge and panel design results in the lack of a single port on the back of the system, with only the battery taking up any real estate. However, this omission does ensure that the panel remains extremely rigid and in place. In the days of cheap plastic parts and flimsy panels, this type of quality is a welcomed change.
Viewing the right side of the system, we see a dense collection of ports and expansion slots. From front to back, we have two USB ports, a 1394 port, Flash Memory slot, PCMCIA slot, infrared port, additional USB port, and 15-pin D-Sub monitor output. Nestled in the midst of these ports is an adequate series of air vents for the cooling fan to exhaust warm air.
Switching our attention to the left side of the system, we see an equally impressive collection of ports. From front to back, we have a USB port, a slot-loading DVD+/-RW drive, cable TV input, a TV-Output port, LAN port, Modem port, power input, and lastly a Kensington Lock port.
Opening the panel and investigating the inside of the system, we see a very clean and organized orientation of buttons. On the left-most side, ASUS has placed a series of status indicators. A Drive Activity indicator reflects hard drive access, whereas an indicator is lit when the Number Lock is activated. A Caps Lock indicator lights as expected, with a Scroll Lock rounding out the left-side with its own indicator light. On the opposite side of the system, we find a series of Instant Launch Keys. From top to bottom, we see launch keys for the internet, e-mail, Bluetooth, pad-lock, and Power4 Gear power saving modes. Rounding out the multitude of indicators, we see the front panel houses indicators for power, battery charge, e-mail, Bluetooth, and WLAN. Should you still be wanting more outputs and inputs, ASUS has populated the front panel with a complete sequence of multimedia jacks and a consumer IR port.
The bottom of the system holds a feature which will surprise even the most seasoned notebook veteran. In addition to the usual gamut of compartments for the CPU, hard drive, memory, and battery we see three additional speakers to compliment the two on the front of the LCD panel. Nestled between a stereo speaker on either side of the system is a small but surprisingly effective subwoofer. Although you'll never mistake the integrated speakers for a new rival to your home theater speaker setup, it certainly is a marked improvement over the usual integrated setup.