Asus M70SA notebook

When it comes to notebooks, you can't deny Asus has caused something of a stir of late with its Eee PCs. However, its core business is larger fully-featured machines, of which the M70SA has to be one of the most impressive.

Made from thick plastic that is cast in silver and black, the design isn't the most flamboyant and comes across as rather basic. However, the actual machine is far from so. Weighing 4.1kg, this machine isn't for the traveller but it does sport a 17-inch screen, making this an all-round desktop replacement.

The screen has a Super-TFT coating and with a native resolution of 1900 x 1200 pixels has a Full HD rating for watching high-def content. The HD theme is continued with the inclusion of a Blu-ray optical drive.

Another area where it excels is in the choice of graphics card: the ATi Mobility Radeon HD 3650. This is a new high-end card that is fully HD and Blu-ray compatible and can more than handle the latest games. With 1024MB of its own dedicated memory this is as quick a card as you'll find. We played Crysis on this system and while you still can't run the game with full settings, no single card solution can, we found it ran at a comfortable frame rate.

If you are looking for raw power you won't be disappointed. Using Intel's latest chip – the 2.5GHz Core 2 Duo T9300 – and backed with 4GB of memory, this is as powerful a system as you're likely to need. We found it handled everyday tasks with ease and didn't even show signs of slowing when ripping a DVD to disc.

Asus is making a great deal of noise about this being the first notebook to sport 1TB of storage, which is impressive but as this is split over twin 500GB drives, it won't be the only one for long.

It's not all good news, as the keyboard certainly doesn't live up to expectations. We were hoping for a high-quality finish to the keys but they feel rather flimsy and there is a definite rattle as you type. It's a shame as this feature detracts from the overall effect of the M70SA.

There are a number of impressive features that really set this device apart. The touchpad doubles as a media controller, so you can manage your movies and music at the tap of the touchpad. Then there are the Altec Lansing speakers with added subwoofer that really brings music to the forefront of the device.

You'll also find a built-in digital TV tuner that comes with its own remote control unit. If you want to quickly launch your favourite applications, you can do so using the fingerprint scanner. While it can be used for security reasons, Asus has included it as a quick launch button.

Verdict

The Asus M70SA is a stunning machine and is currently our favourite desktop replacement. True, there are notebooks with better keyboards but for sheer power and usability this is as good as it currently gets.