ASUS NX90 laptop: 18.4-inches of Bang & Olufsen designed awe

Some people might think “a laptop designed by Bang & Olufsen? That sounds like it sounds good!” Which makes sense – B.O. may not smell good, but it certainly produces some fine sounds. Unfortunately, we’re much shallower than that. We like B&O because they make things look cool. And they’ve done it again.

Although created by ASUS, the NX90 laptop owes its beautiful shaped to the Danish audio giant. Crafted by designer David Lewis, it’s got an 18.4-inch screen, two huge speakers and a dual-touchpad encased in polished-aluminium.

Asus-NX90-and-beard

The Laptop: Ridiculous and Insane

Let’s start with the ridiculous, before the insane – the speakers. They’re huge. They actually make the screen-side of the laptop bigger than the base unit. It’s an unheard of design that immediately draws attention to the laptop’s exceptional feature: sound.

The audio output of the ASUS NX90 is actually on-par with full surround sound systems. Because of their size, the speakers can generate a ‘wrap around’ effect – the same technology found on speakerless surround sound solutions for televisions. They’re measured at “108cc”, which essentially means they’re 3-4 times to size of traditional laptop speakers.

The over-sized speakers are part of ASUS’s drive for better audio on laptops – or the SonicMaster programme. For every laptop with SonicMaster accreditation (the NX90 is one), Henry Huang explains: “We apply extra care and planning in the placement of components … to get the best positioning and spacing for speakers. We then choose the best speaker components, audio codecs, amplifiers and circuit designs available to get optimised analogue sound performance. We also fine-tune the entire system using digital signal processing (DSP) to eliminate any flaws in sound reproduction.”

Asus-NX90-on-table

With the NX90, Huang notes that the company “applied a unique speaker design that can extend and sustain low frequencies beyond what its size may suggest.”

While the speakers may be ridiculous, the inclusion of dual touchpads is insane. Two touchpads? Why would you need two touchpads? Well, DJ’s know. Not only are the pads oversized, but they’re also both usable at the same time. ASUS are referring to it as ‘DJ-style’ control: two-handed movement, zooming and scrolling – all at every music maestro’s fingertips.

With such over-the-top (but equally, awesome) features, the system’s innards are a little overshadowed. This is a shame, because on a normal notebook they’d be getting plenty of attention. There’s the Intel Core i7 processors (i7-740QM 1.73GHz), Windows 7 Ultimate (64-bit), 6GB DDR3 RAM, a Full HD LED screen, nVidia Geforce 335M with 1GB GDDR3 and 1.2TB of storage spread over two drives. Oh, and the slot-loading Blu-ray combo drive. And the built-in two megapixel camera. Did I mention the two USB 3.0 ports?
The best thing about the NX90 – apart from the hauntingly beautiful adverts – is that it manages to impress on every level. Aesthetically, it’s beautiful. Aurally, it’s class-leading. Functionality? Dual touchpads, Blu-ray and more power than most desktop systems. What’s not to like? Even the price, £2,499, is not prohibitive.

The best comparison would be the top-end £1,899 Macbook Pro, which doesn’t even scratch the achievements of the NX90 (a good thing, too, because any marks would ruin the brushed-aluminium outfit). For an extra £600, you get a better processor, a bigger screen (by 1.4-inches) 700GB more space, 2GB more RAM, Blu-ray, a better graphics card and astounding sound. It seems that high-end notebooks have a new name: NX90.

Get it from a range of high street and online retailers, including Harrods, Micro Anvika, Selfridges, Comet, Scan Computers, Platinum Solutions and www.ebuyer.com.

Bang & Olufsen BeoVision: 46 inches of style and substance

Hot on the heels of Bang & Olufsen’s 40-inch BeoVision television comes a new, larger version. This one is a 46-inch model that will be available from April. The BeoVision 10-46 is essentially the same as its little brother but with a viewing area that is 32 per cent larger.

These extra inches may appeal to all those who believe bigger is better. However, if there is someone else in the house who needs convincing over the need for such a sizeable piece, there have been a few changes in style that are worth highlighting.

BeoVision

First of all, the rear cover is now white, instead of black. This works with the aluminium frame to help lighten the look of the TV and will appeal to those who don’t just want a large, black hole gracing the corner of the living room.

The other new feature is the fabric grille that covers the speaker at the front. You can pick from a choice of six colours – black, blue, dark grey, silver, orange or white – so you can choose one to blend or contrast with your living room. As the grille is attached by magnets, it is easy to change around if you fancy a new look, or decide that orange is too distracting or black is just so last year.

If blending with your home décor is of limited interest, don’t worry, the techy side of things is all in place. The BeoVision 10-46 is HD-ready and has an LCD panel with edge-type LED technology and a 200 Hz refresh rate to help keep the image smooth and stable. There’s also integrated surround sound and DVB-HD module, plus the facilities to add up to five extra speakers and several set-top boxes.

Of course, B&O are not known for being a budget brand, so – although we don’t know a price just yet – it seems safe to assume that the BeoVision 10-46 may remain a dream for most of us. However if you win the lottery and decide to go for it, this could be a screen that appeals to both the masculine and feminine sides of your brain.

Bang & Olufsen BeoCom5 – back to the landline?

With Mobile World Congress poised to present the latest in cell phone innovation, you may be surprised to find us making a reverse-charge back into the world of the humble landline. But this chic cordless from sound-system heavyweight Bang & Olufsen more than merits a passing comment. The elegant BeoCom5 uses the same acoustics as the company’s famous loudspeakers to promise surround-sound audio.

Bang & Olufsen has certainly earned its stripes in the surround-sound arena, so transferring this thinking to BeoCom5 can’t have been much of a stretch. The platform for this is the striking speakerphone, an aluminium shield of supersonics with a new definition for the word “cordless”. Simply take the surround-sound unit with you between rooms, handset held fast with a built-in battery, to summon the boardroom or long-overdue family reunion into your living space.

It may be cutting a trend with the acoustics, but BeoCom5 takes a more conventional approach to fashion than its banana-like predecessor BeoCom 2. In fact, when removed from its surround-sound / charger unit it appears quite plain and, dare I say, sensible. But beyond its highly-presentable black casing with daring aluminium scrollwheel, the phone itself has hidden dimensions.

Clearly happiest as part of a crowd, this sociable speakerphone lets you customise each handset’s 2-inch LCD display with a unique colour pattern to suit individual family members or match the décor of your rooms. Once happy with the aesthetics, you can even tweak the tones for further customisation.

If you’ve got the space – and ears – available, you can add up to eight handsets for the one phone. Now unless you’re rattling around in a B&O-bedecked commune, this may seem a little excessive, but when you learn that a single BeoCom5 unit can handle two separate external lines as well as VoIP and limitless internal calls, it may not be quite so outrageous. With all lines buzzing and phone book bulging, you’ll be relieved to learn you can save up to 400 contacts in the base unit – convenient for assembling an audience ahead of an impromptu group pow-wow.

Yes, the BeoCom5 is impressive and hands-down the smartest thing that’s ever going to grace my lounge, but is it enough to singly revive mass interest in the landline? Bang & Olufsen has clearly delivered another cutting-edge piece of kit, but whether it can bring the cordless back from the brink remains to be seen.