We review ASUS’ tough and durable BU201
While Taiwanese manufacturer ASUS is known for its consumer notebooks, few people know that the company makes gear for the enterprise space as well. Today we’re reviewing one such notebook, dubbed as the BU201. The BU201 is quite light and is probably one of the most durable examples of notebooks you can find today.
Before we start, let’s take a gander at the notebook’s specs:
ASUS BU201 specs
- Intel Core i7 4650U/Intel vPro CPU Processor
- 4GB DDR3L 1600 MHz SDRAM
- 12.5-inch full HD non-glare IPS LCD display, 1920 x 1080p resolution
- 500GB HDD
- WiFi, Bluetooth, fingerprint scanner
- Windows 7
A design that’s all business
Unlike the flashy designs of ASUS’ consumer notebooks, the BU201 looks plain and resembles the look of similar devices offered by its competitors. The notebook sports a matte black finish on its lid and chassis. Just like a good business suit, the BU201 exudes an air of simple elegance.
Since the notebook is aimed at executives on the move, the BU201 is incredibly light and small. At just 1.36 kilos and an overall thickness of less than 21mm, it’s one of the most portable business notebooks around, making it perfect for globe-trotting execs. It’s also one of the toughest notebooks that you can buy today, save for those ultra-rugged (and ultra-bulky) notebooks that other companies make, able to take an absurd amount of punishment to the frame while keeping your data safe thanks to the carbon fiber chassis. How tough is the BU201? It’s tough enough to withstand a 30 to 40 kilo weight exerted directly on top of the notebook.
If you do drop the notebook to the floor, metal mounts, anti-shock protection and accelerometers that are built into the hard drives keep your data safe, retracting the drive’s head to prevent data corruption in the event the notebook is accidentally dropped. Finally, the keyboard of the BU201 is spill resistant as well, and drains water away from the important bits of the notebook.
Once you open the lid, you’re treated to a spacious QWERTY keyboard that has plenty of travel and generous spacing. Much like Lenovo’s vaunted ThinkPad lineup, the BU201 sports a small rubber joystick in the middle of the G and H key that serves as a secondary pointing device if you don’t like using the trackpad. Unlike the offerings of Lenovo though, you can’t double tap on it to select something on the screen – you’ll have to use the two trackpad keys right below the keyboard to do that.
Speaking of the screen the BU201 sports a gorgeous 12.5-inch full HD IPS panel. It has an anti-reflective coating so you can use it outdoors without experiencing issues with glare. As for the display itself, colors are accurate and easy on the eyes, viewing angles are plentiful and contrast is excellent. You can lay the display flat on the table as well if you need to.
In true business fashion there’s a fingerprint reader right beside the trackpad as well for an additional layer of security, aside from the traditional password protection that’s built in Windows.
As far as ports go, there’s three USB 3.0 ports, along with a DisplayPort. Since this particular notebook is made for business, there’s a VGA port on the side as well as a Smart Card reader. Business aren’t exactly the first ones to adopt new tech, so that is completely understandable.
Performance that’s sometimes chokes under pressure
Inside the BU210 sits Intel’s Core i7 4650U processor, which is, unfortunately, rather dated. That’s paired with 4GB of RAM and a 500GB HDD. The hardware in the BU210 should be more than enough for most tasks since the notebook isn’t meant to crunch heavy numbers – it’s supposed to browse the internet, make and edit a couple of Excel sheets and maybe show off a PowerPoint presentation or two. It does those tasks rather well, though sometimes it chokes a little when opening multiple windows on Chrome. We’re quite puzzled by this to be honest, and it’s not something that you want to happen when you’re doing something time sensitive, like say writing a first-impressions article for a recently released flagship smartphone from a global phone brand.
Speakers on the BU201 are loud, loud enough to be heard over the din of a rather busy Starbucks that we were writing the review in. The keyboard is a dream to type on although you’ll have to get used to avoiding the lower right and lower left parts of the G key and H key respectively because of the joystick placement.
5-hour battery life
While Business notebooks don’t need to run Crysis at full HD and 60FPS, they do need long run times. The BU201’s batter is acceptable, and we clocked battery life of around 5 hours on a single charge. That’s acceptable endurance for a notebook such as this, though that could probably extended a little bit more through diligent energy management.
Verdict: Ultra thin and light notebook, though we wished it had less hiccups
ASUS’ BU201 is the perfect notebook for businesses looking for a tough, durable notebook that won’t break the bank. While it’s stated SRP as tested is rather high at Php 76,995, the price is pretty competitive considering the price of other notebooks out in the market that’s as thin and strong as the BU201. We just hope that ASUS addresses some of the issues that we encountered during our review via a software patch for it.