Asus Z80K: Athlon 64 DTR Notebook

Construction: Building, Appearance, Size

Construction: Building, Appearance, Size
A tad smaller than your typical DTR...

The Asus Z80K is cased in what seems to be a carbon fiber / metal alloy composite material, similar to the material used for Dell notebooks. However, it seems to be a bit stiffer and thinner, which may be a problem if the unit is dropped.  It is hard to say this definitively without actually dropping it, though (something we don't plan to do). Another difference we noticed is that the material is not polished as smooth as the material used for Dell notebooks, which is the closest thing we can compare it to. This difference does make it easier to scuff up the casing, enough so that scratches are visible from the right angle in a well lighted room.

The notebook can be opened via a single clip in the front, which disengages two hooks that hold the lid down.

Front (left to right):

  • LEDs (power status – green when on, battery charge status – orange when charging, new mail status– blue when active, wireless activity status – yellow when enabled)
  • CD power switch
  • CD previous track/volume down (hold down to decrease)
  • CD next track/volume up (hold down to increase)
  • CD stop
  • CD play/pause

There is one oddity that we noticed with the Z80K, especially since it is marked as Asus' "High-end Gaming Rig." On the front side of the system, there is a cluster of multimedia control buttons. All of these are supposed to allow you to interact with either the operating system's default audio player (when the system is on) or an independent media player OS (when the system is off). This is similar to HP's QuickPlay concept, but it is slightly more limited. When we tested the system out, none of the buttons did anything when the system was already in Windows.  For example, the CD power switch is supposed to load/exit the default audio player according to the manuals, but this didn't happen.

We were also unable to test these buttons using the independent media OS, because the necessary software wasn't included with our sample. Powering on the system via the CD power switch is supposed to load a preinstalled mini-OS. Please note that this means that the CPU, hard drive, wireless card (if enabled in BIOS), and all the other various components will be still draining your battery power when the mini-OS is used. Unfortunately, we are unable to assess the usability of the user interface (UI) and can't comment on whether or not the mini-OS boots faster than Windows.

We should also note that the label "system off mode" can be somewhat misleading. So far, all "system off mode" features that play MP3s, CDs, DVD, etc... when outside of the operating system (Linux or Windows) are actually smaller load operating systems that still need to power the optical drive, CPU, hard drive, etc... There are really no major power saving benefits, if any benefits at all. Most of the time, all the notebooks we have seen with "system off" features come with a very clumsy and hard to use user interface (UI). The only thing we have seen remotely close to good is HP's QuickPlay feature. This is the main problem we have with any system off feature, because they need to provide at least one of three things: load faster, load less software, or use load less hardware, while still maintaining a decent user interface.

Left (left to right):

  • Power port
  • PCMCIA slot
  • 4-pin mini IEEE1394 port
  • line-in port
  • microphone port
  • headphone port

Back (left to right):

  • 2 x USB 2.0 ports
  • Ethernet jack
  • Modem jack
  • Parallel port
  • VGA out port
  • Exhaust vent
  • S-video out port
  • Lock port

Right (left to right):

  • 2 x USB 2.0 ports
  • Toshiba SD-R6372 DVD+-RW (4x +- R/2x +- RW/16x CD-R/10x CD-RW)
  • IR window
  • MMC/SD/MS/MS Pro Card Reader
  • USB 2.0 port


Related content