Good looks and performance, but does it underwhelm?
Nowadays it’s quite common to see entertainment centric laptops getting a little heavy on the gaming side, but the N61Ja is an odd little machine given its capabilities and limitations.
Visually the N61Ja is very appealing, in a chunky sort of way. The glossy black top with chocolate brown patterns on top looks very sleek, while the inside area around the keyboard has a matte black finish with a slightly rubberized finish around the palm rest. The contrasting strip of silver provides housing for the Altec Lansing Surround Sound speakers along with the media control buttons and the Power switch.
The monitor is probably the biggest issue in this otherwise fine laptop. While I’m used to being disappointed with every laptop manufacturer coming out with a glossy screen, ASUS went one step further with a 16” HD/LED screen at a wonderfully measly resolution of 1366×768. The N61Ja is poised as a complete multimedia laptop with video acceleration to upscale DVD movies to 1080p, yet the monitor resolution leaves this feature severely handicapped. I guess that’s something for the HDMI out connection to fully realize.
Speaking of outlets, the front of the laptop simply has an SDHC/MMC/MS Pro reader slot and the typical indication LEDs. The left side has the power plug, VGA, HDMI, LAN, USB 3.0 and Express card ports along with the Wi-Fi switch. To the right are the audio jacks, USB 2.0 ports, an eSATA port and DVD drive. Nothing on the back. The N61Ja has a very simplistic design with good build quality, nothing too fancy, hence nothing that would demand a premium price.
Specs wise the N61Ja packs quite a punch, with its Core i7 620M processor running at 2.67GHz, 4GB ram and ATI Mobility Radeon 5730 with 1GB onboard ram. All of this comes with a twin 320GB HDD setup. Additionally, the N61Ja comes with an Intel Integrated Graphics chip, switchable with the ATI 5730 whenever the laptop is unplugged or not playing games. Certainly a battery life saving feature, but one that isn’t as effective in real life as I managed to squeeze out 2.5 hours worth of normal usage (non-HD video & mp3 playback and internet browsing).