Storage and display
The top of the L5000GA
Angle shot of the top of the notebook opened
For storage duties, an 80GB 5400 RPM hard drive from Hitachi was built into our L5000GA test system, the Travelstar 5K80. This drive sports an 8MB buffer with a 12ms average seek time. IBM/Hitachi took some heat a few years ago on the desktop side with its 60GXP/75GXP, but has since recovered well. In fact their 7200 RPM 7K250 line is highly regarded, earning high marks in reviews.
If you want a little more disk performance, Hitachi’s Travelstar 7K60 hard drive is also available as an option. This drive tops out at 60GB, but spins at 7200 RPMs with an 8MB buffer. Average seek time drops to 10ms typical.
Surprisingly enough, ASUS opted for a third-party for optical storage, Toshiba. ASUS makes its own line of optical drives so we expected to see a drive from ASUS in the L5000GA. The Toshiba drive boasts good specs: 8X DVD-ROM / 2X DVD-R / 1X DVD-RW / 16X CD-R / 10X CD-RW / 24X CD-ROM, all-in-all not bad at all for a notebook.
Remember, our L5000GA review system is of the Built on ASUS variety. This means that the processor, memory, and hard drive are all configurable options that are installed by the reseller. ASUS simply qualifies the components that are approved for use in the L5000GA. You can save money buy integrating a slower processor, less memory, or a smaller hard drive if you wish.
Visuals are outputted to a 15” Super XGA+ (SXGA+) display, which sports a native resolution of 1400x1050 pixels. At first glance, 1400x1050 doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you consider the power of ATI’s MOBILITY RADEON 9600 PRO VPU, it makes sense – the chip really doesn’t have the power to drive games at 1600x1200 (the native resolution of many desktop replacement notebooks) with adequate frame rates. And besides, the real gem of the L5000GA’s display is ACE View.
ASUS ACE (Advanced Color-Contrast Enhancement) View refers to the L5000GA’s In-Plane Switching (IPS) TFT LCD.
One of the main problems with conventional TFT LCDs, which usually utilize Twisted Nematic (TN) + film panels, is that of narrow viewing angles. Unless you’re sitting directly in front of the display, aspects such as the display’s brightness/contrast and color appear off. You have to remain in the “sweet spot” in front of the display for optimal viewing. In-Plane Switching, first introduced by Hitachi in the mid-90’s, has been developed to overcome this.
IPS works by shifting the location of electrode pairs, which are mounted parallel to each other in the lower substrate versus electrode pairs mounted above one another on separate substrates in TN+film displays. In TN+film panels, only the lower electrode is switched by the TFT, but with both electrodes parallel to each other in IPS panels, they’re both in the same plane. This design keeps liquid crystals parallel to the front of the panel, as the electromagnetic field runs horizontally through the material, effectively increasing viewing angle.
One of the main downsides to this approach is that this implementation consumes lots of power, as a more power-hungry backlight is necessary to provide a bright display. Traditionally response times of IPS panels have been higher as well, although some newer IPS displays boast sub-20ms response times.
The end result is a display that can be viewed at wide, 170-degree viewing angles. You will see a little brightness drop off at extreme angles, but color reproduction remains consistent. This means that IPS displays have excellent off-axis viewing characteristics, but tend to soak up more juice in the process.