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.
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.”
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.