When I worked in the software industry in my previous life, all the ‘laptops’ we got were bulky and boxy machines that were hard to lug around.
Asus is trying to change that with its new line of commercial laptops under the Expertbook moniker in India. The company claims that these laptops not only lightweight, but also powerful and secure.
I got to use the new Asus Experbook B9 for a couple of weeks and I’m frankly impressed — it’s sleek, it packs a lot of features, and it’s got excellent battery life.
Before we talk more about the device, let’s take a look at its specifications. Keep in mind that, some of the specs are customizable, so you might have a different configuration than the one I tried. You can check out all the possible options here. The model below costs ₹167,771 ($2,285).
- Screen: 14-inch full HD LED screen (1920 x 1080 resolution)
- Processor: Intel Core i7-10510U 1.8GHz quad-core processor
- RAM: 16GB LDDR3
- Internal Storage: 512GB Dual M.2 NVMe SSD
- Size (L x W x H): 20.3 cm x 32 cm x 1.49 cm
- Weight: 0.995 kg
- Battery: 66kWh
- Power adapter: 65W USB-C adapter
- Front camera: 720p camera with IR camera for Windows Hello
- Mic: Array microphone with 4-meter range and noise cancellation
- Ports: 2 x Thunderbolt 3 USB-C, 1 x USB 3.1 gen-2 type-A, 1 x HDMI, 1 x RJ45 LAN via micro HDMI port, 1 x 3.5 mm audio jack, 1 x Kensington lock
- Connectivity: WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5.0
- Operating system: Windows 10 Pro
Design and features
The Expertbook B9 is designed for enterprise, so it still follows boxy design principles, but it doesn’t look outdated. The body’s made out of magnesium-lithium and magnesium-aluminum alloys and it’ll supposedly hold up against minor falls and bumps. However, it might not last drops more than a few centimeters.
“Holy shit! It’s light,” is the first thing that’ll go through your mind when you pick up the device. The Asus laptop weighs under a kilogram and it’s amazing how the company has managed to fit in a 66 kWh battery in this machine.
Asus ships a 65W charger with the machine, and the good thing is that you can charge the laptop with either of the USB-C ports on the left side. There are plenty of small-sized chargers and power banks available now that can juice up a laptop through a USB-C port in case you don’t have the official charger around.
The laptop also has a quirky number pad that’s embedded right into the touchpad — and spreadsheet users might be delighted. You can enable it through by tapping the top right-hand corner. While the touchpad recognized the difference between clicks and keying in numbers, it might take a while for you to get used to it.
The Expertbook B9 packs nifty security features that would be useful in and out of the office. There’s an IR-camera on the top bezel that allows you to use Windows Hello for login. There’s also a hardware killswitch for the camera.
The device also has a fingerprint scanner next to the keyboard for authentication. And there’s Kensington lock port so you can lock it up on your desk. Because Windows 10 and Microsoft Edge is FIDO2 compliant. You can also use your security keys with it to login to applications.
Performance and observations
The 14-inch screen is nice and bright, but as Windows 10 defaults to 150% zoom, everything seems big and grainy. You might want to shift to 125% zoom as fonts at 100% might be too small to read.
I also wish that the aspect ratio of the screen wasn’t 16:9. It’s nice for watching movies. But this is laptop is not meant for entertainment. I’d be more comfortable with 3:2 or even 16:10 so as to I can concentrate on the content in front of me in an easier manner.
The Intel Core i7-10510U — comet lake processor meant for power-efficient mobile usage — with 16GB RAM is sufficient for running multiple applications given they’re not graphics heavy. This was never meant to be a gaming device, so don’t count on taking advantage of your Steam library after work — even non-resource intensive games are sluggish on it.
The hinge placement nicely hides the bottom bezel, but if you’re using the device literally on your lap, it digs into your skin and might feel a tad bit uncomfortable.
You can achieve 180-degree flex with the screen and lay the laptop flat. The only time I’d use that is when I’m lying on my bed with my knees bent and I want to keep the device on my legs. While it doesn’t have tablet-like use of 360-degree flexible laptops when you might want to try out a tablet format, it’s good to have flexibility so as to not break the screen at awkward angles.
The Expertbook B9 has excellent battery life, and that’s important for traveling executives. While I didn’t get the advertised 24 hours of real-life juice out of the device,I could easily last throughout a day of writing, watching movies, playing music and taking calls on a single charge.
The company claims that the laptop’s speakers were designed by Harmon Kardon. But they’re not loud enough. I couldn’t listen to anything at full volume if I had a fan or air conditioner running in my room. I’ve never had this problem with my old MacBook Air. The 4-mic array is good enough for Zoom calls but to hear other participants, you might need to use earphones anyway.
Who’s it for?
The laptop is ideal for any executive doing a lot of traveling in the post-COVID world. It’s super lightweight and compact enough to fit into any of your office bags. Plus, its excellent battery life ensures that you won’t have to run around the airport to find a charging point.
Asus has managed to make the Expertbook B9 into a lightweight laptop that providers security and portability instead of power. If you’re someone who has to do a lot of number crunching and graphics-intenstive work through applications, you should rather keep a desktop system in your office, and use this as your on-the-go device.
The Expertbook B9 starts in India from ₹102,228 ($1,391) and it’s available for purchase on Amazon, Flipkart, and Croma.
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Published October 15, 2020 — 11:51 UTC