Asus intends the S6F to offer a bit of luxury to a traditionally mundane market. Just look at the box: it’s all high-quality design, with ribbons used to open each black cardboard section. The notebook itself comes with a smart, high-quality pouch too, but the main singing point is the hand-crafted leather coating on the notebook itself.
It might sound a simple thing to do but Asus claims it can take two months to make one and that exhaustive testing has gone into ensuring the leather won’t peel off under any circumstances. It comes in an ‘appetising’ choice of colours: yellowish brown or dark brown and includes a small, matching wired Logitech mini mouse. It’s certainly enough to get the heads turning.
The rest of the notebook has a polished graphite appearance. It’s all very nice but the 37mm thickness does detract from the sleek lines. The ergonomics aren’t for everyone. While the keyboard is comfortable to type on its small keys won’t suit the fat fingered. The 1366 x 768, 11.1-inch screen is sharp and bright and offers more real-estate than the BenQ and HP, but icons and lettering will be too small and fine for some people.
It did very well in our performance tests. The low-powered 1.5GHz Core Duo L2300 CPU, combined with 512MB of RAM and a generous 100GB hard disk to score a decent 0.80 in our benchmarks – admirable for an ultraportable.
Not surprisingly, Asus has once again targeted the specification to the upper end of the market and little is left out. For connectivity, there’s 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2 and Gigabit Ethernet. The DVD-writer supports both dual-layer and DVD-RAM, a memory card reader supports SD/MMC and Memory Sticks, there’s an Express Card slot and a wireless switch too.
Asus also supplies two batteries: The 3-cell option lasted only one hour three minutes under intensive use, two hours 13 minutes under light use, and gave a weight of just 1.4kg. The six-cell battery lasted a respectable two hours 13 minutes under intensive use, four hours 43 minutes under light use and pushed the weight to 1.6kg. It’s decidedly portable.
Asus offers a two year international C&R warranty, making this a well-rounded ultraportable. But you’re certainly paying for it. The ergonomics of the BenQ are superior thanks to full-size keys and an extra inch in screen size. It feels noticeably less cramped and doesn’t look bad either. Considering it costs $625 less than the S6F, we can’t recommend the Asus. If you’re cashed up, you’ve always wanted a leather notebook and can suffer some impracticality, you’ll love it. Otherwise there’s cheaper, more practical options out there.