These days, the best laptops are the ones that are powerful, easy to carry from the bedroom to the living room without affecting work, and capable of chilling with you post office hours.
Asus’ VivoBook Ultra K15 aims to be the sort of laptop that can seamlessly balance work and leisure time – better than most of us. So does it succeed? Read on to find out.
Sober yet sturdy design
As far as design is concerned, the one word that comes to mind is basic. If Asus’ ROG series are the outgoing party animals, the VivoBook Ultra K15 is an introvert who prefers staying home alone on a Friday night.
The Indie Black colour variant, we reviewed, is particularly sober. That said, the other two variants – Transparent Silver and Hearty Gold – are a tad cooler, if we may say so.
While it may not stand out in terms of design, the overall fit and finish is quite good. The plastic body keeps the weight manageable at 1.8kgs and makes it easy to carry around. The smooth matte finish also feels good to touch. The hinge mechanism is smooth, and there are no audible jerks or creaks when opening and shutting the lid.
DULL AND DULLER
When you open the lid, the first thing you invariably notice is the 15.6in display boasting an FHD (1920x1080 pixels) resolution. Considering how much time you’re bound to spend staring at the screen, Asus should’ve put extra work into fine-tuning the display. It’s not the prettiest.
While it is by no means a bad display, it is a bit dull and the colours are lacklustre. The 250 nits of brightness is enough when indoors, but sit close to a window on a bright day, and you’re likely to start questioning your eyesight.
The bezels around the screen are broad, get a shiny finish, and remind you of the days when laptops were built like suitcases. Keeping with the dated theme is the surprising omission of a touch screen. While it’s not a deal-breaker, there are advantages to having touch support, especially when multitasking.
TYPING AND TOUCHING
The other thing you will be doing a lot besides staring at the screen is typing, and things are a bit better in this department. You get a full-sized keyboard with chiclet keys that offer 1.4mm travel. In simpler words, it is good enough to type on.
The keys are well spaced out, and there’s an assured feel to every keypress. While it doesn’t guarantee what you type will become the next bestseller, it does make it easy to type fast, which I’m able to as I write this review. The white backlight under the keys is quite useful when working after the sun’s gone down, but don’t expect the boss to stop nagging you.
The touchpad under the keyboard is large and responsive enough for comfortable use. While it’s no MacBook, the trackpad supports multi-touch input, and the gestures work well most of the time.
The top-right corner of the touchpad houses a fingerprint scanner, which is snappy and logs you in quickly without much delay. Though there are no complaints with the biometrics, you do miss the Windows Hello face unlock. It’s not only faster and convenient, but you also miss out on the warm and fuzzy feeling when your laptop is “Looking for you...”, even if no one else is.
PERFORMS WHERE IT MATTERS
Under the hood is an AMD Ryzen 7 5700U octa-core CPU paired with Radeon Integrated graphics, and 8GB of built-in DDR4 RAM. This config may not set benchmark charts on fire, but there is more than enough power to complete your office work without complaining to your boss about your computer hanging.
Basic Microsoft Office and Adobe apps along with the likes of Slack open and close with ease, which is something most office employees use. The HD resolution webcam, however, is largely disappointing.
Even though video meetings have become second nature in this WFH, most laptops at this price point still make you look like characters out of a PlayStation 1 game. We are still waiting for the day when laptops in general have built-in webcams that will make you look good. Till then, you can opt for an external webcam.
After office hours, you can chill by playing games like Asphalt 9: Legends and Fortnite. These games work smoothly at 60FPS, but we did notice some drop in frame rates after about 30 minutes of gaming. Needless to say, this isn’t a gaming machine, so there’s no point trying to play graphic-intensive games.
You can end the day by watching your favourite OTT movies and series on the laptop. The Harman Kardon speakers onboard are decent, and the sound is balanced with enough depth. But these are bottom-firing speakers and tend to get muffled when kept on a bed. Better find a hard surface to place the laptop on during your Netflix and chill sessions.
The Asus VivoBook Ultra K15 ticks most boxes if you’re looking for a laptop that helps you do the basic day-to-day stuff. But it is immediately out of its elements when you ask a bit more from it. It is not the flashiest of laptops, and not for hardcore gaming. But it is certainly a good laptop for most WFH scenarios. At ₹72,990, it won’t break the bank either.