Asus VivoBook E403SA Review

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This is a solid 14-inch Windows laptop with better-than-average style, performance, and features. Its 128GB drive stands out among cheap systems equipped with 32GB drives.

In some ways, the Asus VivoBook E403SA (starting at $369, Amazon) is a fairly typical example of a budget laptop, however some say the options it offers are more in-line with mid-range models rather than a machine at this price.

Unlike most cheap laptops, the VivoBook E403SA has an aluminum shell, yet it's particularly light and thin coming in at .7 inches wide and weighing about 3.3 pounds. Its internal configurations are also pretty solid considering how affordable it is. It comes equipped with an Intel Pentium CPU, and its 4GB of RAM and 128GB eMMC drive are more than many others offer. Its 14-inch screen sporting full HD 1080p display powered by an Intel graphics chip is not entirely common, either. This model is also packed with ports, including a USB-C port alongside a USB 3.0 port, a USB 2.0 port, a combo mic/headphone jack, and an HDMI connector. The addition of an SD card slot is a nice extra, as is the ability to support 802.11ac Wi-Fi. An expert from Reviewed also praises the system for its lack of bloatware. There's no extra, useless software that you have to delete, just a clean Windows 10 OS. The keyboard is reported to be comfortable to use, and the touchpad is considered better than average, offering high responsiveness to finger gestures.

There are some drawbacks, however. While the screen displays sharp text and colors, it's best for wide side-to-side views, there can be some color shift at other angles. Also, as a reviewer at Computer Shopper points out, the built-in webcam has a pretty low resolution, which leads to grainy images and poor color and detail. Also, the CPU isn't especially powerful. The expert says the VivoBook will get you through typical daily operations, but you won't be impressed with its raw power. On the other hand, the lighter CPU does allow for a long battery life – more than 10 hours in Computer Shopper's testing.

The VivoBook has a nice look and feel, and a display that's easily better than most competitors despite its downsides. It has more on-board storage than most, and more RAM as well. The USB-C port will help future-proof the system. Its performance is hardly sensational, it's definitely not ideal for heavy gamers, but it will power through your usual laptop-oriented tasks for hours on the go. The bottom line: you'll be hard-pressed to find a better bargain in this category.

Michael Sweet

Michael Sweet writes about consumer electronics. If something runs on electricity or ones and zeroes, he's interested in it. Sweet has written about PC technology and consumer electronics for 14 years.

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