Saturday, June 18, 2011


The ASUS K42J is the latest in the K series of affordable laptops. This 14-inch notebook features a high-performance Intel Core i5 processor, discrete graphics with Nvidia Optimus technology, and a starting price below $900. Is this the ideal back-to-school laptop? Read on to find out.

Our review unit of the ASUS K42J (K42JC-A1) features the following specifications:

* 14-inch 720p (1366x768) display with LED backlighting
* Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
* Intel Core i5 430M (2.27GHz)
* Nvidia GeForce 310M graphics card w/ 1GB dedicated memory (Optimus switchable graphics)
* 4GB DDR3 1066MHz RAM
* 500GB 7200RPM hard drive
* 802.11n wireless
* DVD Super Multi drive
* Two-year warranty w/ one year accidental coverage
* 6-cell Li-ion battery (10.8v, 4400mAh, 47Wh)
* Weight: 5.01 lbs
* Dimensions: 13.7 x 9.4 x 1.5 inches
* MSRP: $899.99 ($880 street price)

Build and Design
The K42J has a traditional notebook design and shape similar to the previous generation ASUS K40IN. In other words, it looks like a fairly boring coffee brown notebook without much flare. The notebook features a mixture of matte black, semi-gloss brown and black and glossy brown and black plastics. All of the corners and edges are rounded to give the laptop a smoother look, and the textured touchpad and palm rests give the K42J a nice feel. The glossy screen lid features a subtle imprinted design that replicates the pattern used on the palm rests, but overall we're talking about a very clean, simple laptop design.

The build quality of the K42JC-A1 is typical of most of the ASUS consumer-grade notebooks we've reviewed. The overall chassis strength is good with no specific areas of plastic flex or creaking sounds. The internal chassis frame resists pressure quite well and the screen hinges provide a good balance of resistance (not too firm and not too loose). The back of the screen lid does flex under heavy pressure, but even when significant pressure is applied to the back of the screen there are no obvious ripples or distortions on the screen.

The bottom of the notebook includes two access plates for the RAM and the hard drive. ASUS engineers obviously understand that most consumers buying a mainstream notebook like this won't upgrade much (if anything) beyond the RAM and hard drive. Yes, we usually like to have more access to the notebook's internals, but the majority of the people who buy this laptop probably won't care.
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