Asus W5A (W5G00A) - Asus' New Ultra-portable
We have mixed feelings on the Asus W5A. There are two main groups that this notebook will attract: people looking for a high performance ultra-portable or those looking for a multimedia ultra-portable. Our problem lies mainly with those looking for a multimedia ultra-portable.
This notebook doesn't use a top notch display panel along with the glare coating, which is a problem in our opinion. The occasional movie watcher may be content with the display, but if you sit it side by side with other notebooks, you will definitely find the W5A at a disadvantage in display quality. Those that are more avid movie watchers, and can distinguish the qualities of an good display, might notice a difference in bright or dreary scenes even without a side by side comparison.
Sure, this notebook can be used for e-mail, word processing, and just occasional movie watching, but so can Asus' older S5N. For business and professional users, the S5N's standard aspect ratio LCD is a better fit.
Of the problems we have with the notebook, our concerns lie with the keyboard layout, speaker quality (important for multimedia users), touchpad button design, and the aforementioned display panel. We would rather see Asus double up on key functionality, rather than jumble the layout, i.e. the S5N uses FN + up arrow = page up. As for speaker quality, this is something we could learned to live with. It is certainly better than the S5N's mono speaker setup, but anyone with a sharp ear will likely be disappointed. That said, we certainly want to see the touchpad button issue improved. The only way we were able to get around the problem was with an external mouse. Of course, the purpose of an ultra-portable is to be just that "ultra portable." The addition of an external device does nothing to improve mobility; the effect is quite the opposite.
At the end of the day, the Asus W5A is certainly an impressive looking ultra-portable laden with many features. However, it is still in need of some polish. Hopefully, a more developed and honed successor to the S5N will come forth by either just upgrading the S5N's chipset or refining the features of the W5N. But with a current price just under $1,600 (seen at a low of $1,596 including shipping), the W5A isn't terribly expensive. In its current form, we are giving the W5A a 7 on the HotHardware Heat Meter scale.