July 29, 2017
I haven't purchased a non-Apple computer in over a decade. Earlier this week that changed when I bought an ASUS Q325UA. A colleague of mine had gotten an open-box return on one at the local Best Buy and I was very smitten by it. I've been wanting to have a portable Linux computer for some time, and this 2-in-1 laptop fit the bill perfectly. I was also able to get an open box return. My computer appears to be brand new in every respect. It didn't come with the ASUS provided USB C dongle that adds a USB A-type port, HDMI, and another USB C-type port. Still, since it was over $300 off the regular price I'm not complaining.
The Q325 has:
The matte finish slate gray color is pleasantly unobtrusive. It does slightly show fingerprints, but not so much as to be distracting. The whole thing is barely a quarter inch thick closed, and isn't much bigger than a piece of paper (12.24 x 8.31). It feels solidly built, with no flex or bending as you carry it, pick it up, or use it. The aluminum chassis is nicely executed.
The chiclet-style keyboard has variable backlighting. The key travel is minimal, and the sound is rather muted as the keys bottom out. I find typing on it that I make a few mistakes, mostly I suspect from the shorter key travel than I am used to on my MacBook Pro. The function key assortment includes a sleep mode and airplane mode, keyboard back lighting controls, display on/of (for projector hookup), a switch to turn the touchpad off, volume controls, and the Windows Pause/Break, Print Screen, Insert, and Delete keys. The Page Up/Down and Home/End keys require function plus the appropriate arrow key. The arrow keys are arranged in the invert "T" common to small keyboards. All 4 arrow keys are the same size.
The touchpad is large, about 4 1/2 by 3 inches. Under Windows it has two distinct sides, one for left click and one for right click. It does support Windows 10 gestures, and responds nicely to tap-to-click touches. The click itself is muted but still nicely tactile.
The edges of the keyboard, and the relief around the touchpad, are all chamfered, and the silver color of the chamfer makes a nice highlight to the slate gray color of the machine. The two hinges are nicely solid, and work smoothly and with a nice amount of resistance on my computer. One interesting feature is that the bottom edge of the lid, when open, props up the back of the keyboard slightly. Between the hinges, that edge has a slight bit of rubber padding that helps to keep the unit from sliding on a smooth desktop surface. This rubber also protects the edge of the lid.
I have a couple of minor nits to pick. The bottom bezel on the screen is quite large compared to the other three sides. I know this is a result of the physical size of the computer and the aspect ration of the screen, but it still seems like an overly large chin. The gold ASUS logo there does fade into the background after a day or two of use.
The power switch is on the right side of the computer, next to the volume rocker and the non-powered USB C port. It is exactly where my hand goes when I carry the laptop while it is open. Moving from my desk to the couch, I tend to carry laptops in my left arm, held between the crook of my elbow and my left hand. Several times now I have inadvertently turned the ASUS off, when one of my fingers came to rest on the power switch. And unlike macOS, neither Windows 10 nor Ubuntu 17.04 have a restore-your-session feature after having been abruptly turned off.
I haven't drained the battery yet. I did leave it unplugged for most of an 8 hour day and it was still at 30% charge. However, it saw very minimal use in that time. Under high load there is a small CPU fan that kicks on, but it isn't very loud. The vent holes are on the left-hand side of the chassis.
I also haven't really tested the speakers, of which there are four. All the speaker grills are on the underneath side of the keyboard. The bottom of the computer has 4 slightly protruding feet, made of a dense rubber. In table mode these would support the screen, in laptop mode they keep the computer solidly on the desk. In either mode these feet provide enough air space for the speaker to be heard.
I've only had this computer for 4 days now, but I am impressed. It appears to be well manufactured, with nice tolerances, good fit and finish, and attention to detail. It is shockingly light and portable, and appears to have good battery life. The screen is bright and readable, and has a nicely wide field of view. I am a die hard Apple computer fan, and have no intention of leaving the fold. However, as a secondary computer, this is a beautiful little machine.