Let’s get something out of the way first; when we were first shown the W5 we were informed that it was designed with female notebook users in mind. Apart from the fact that you can get this notebook in either icy white or in a lacquered black colour, there is nothing about the machine that says “Girls Only”. What the W5 offers is a fresh look that takes many of the latest design aesthetics - (influenced by people like Apple, which has created a complete design identity on the portable icy white look and it hasn’t hurt them any) and matches these with a great specification.
The chassis is small and compact and weighs in at a portable 1.8kg. The main reason behind this size is the use of a 12.1in panel, which is widescreen so you can sit back on the train and watch a DVD in comfort. The use of a high definition panel, similar to Sony's X-black screens, means that digital images looks stunning. The high contrast definition of the screen is definitely a bonus and adds to the luxury feel of this notebook.
What’s the point of having a highly portable notebook if the battery life isn’t there to match? Once again, Asus has thought this through and offers a range of different battery sizes to help you plan your journey. For those who need even less weight to carry, a smaller 3-cell batter can be fitted - as opposed to the standard 6-cell. If you are looking at using the W5 for even longer, then a 9-cell is also available. However, even with the larger battery, which protrudes from the back of the chassis, the W5 proved no trouble to carry around.
In use, we found that the 6-cell pack offers a little over three hours of life from a single charge, with the 9-cell we managed to get over five hours. In real terms, the use of these two packs together means you can work all day with worrying about having to top up the battery power.
The lid has a built-in webcam that has a 1.3-megapixel resolution. However, rather than being static, the camera can be rotated 180-degrees. In this way, it is possible to use the camera for more than as a straight-on webcam.
Connectivity is proved in the form of 802.11g wireless LAN, with a hardware switch being located just below the screen allowing users to switch the service on/off. Next to this is a button that uses Asus' Power4Gear batter saving technology. Clicking the button allows the user to define the brightness of the screen and lock down the processor so that extra battery life can be eked out of the W5.
If you were worried that such a consumer notebook would be lacking in the power department, there is nothing to worry about with the W5. Powered by an Intel 1.73GHz Pentium M 740 processor, and using the 915GM chipset, the W5 takes full advantage of Intel’s latest additions. The 533MHz Front Side Bus is matched but the use of 512MB DDRII memory, which makes the loading and switching of applications seamless and smooth. This is rounded out by a 80GB hard drive, which is more than enough space for the average user. When the time comes to back files up, the dual-format DVD drive is quick and responsive.
Apart from the weird notion that men and women want wildly different things from their notebook, Asus seems to have thought of everything with the W5 apart from the need of the gamer - who isn’t the target market in any case. It may not have full 3D graphics but in a machine that is intended for all-day use, this is a small compromise that we’re more than willing to accept.