With Black Friday on the horizon, new laptops are hitting the market for the holidays. The ASUS VivoBook 15.6” (X512JA) is a case in point. Judging by its specs, it should meet the needs of most consumers working from home. After a whirlwind weekend with the VivoBook 15.6”, I think this could be a big hit this holiday season.   

Let’s begin this review by discussing the specs, and looking at some notable features. 

 ASUS VivoBook 15 specs

Under the hood, the X512JA model comes with an Intel Core i5-1035G, 16 GB of DDR4 Ram, 512 GB SSD storage and 32 GB Intel Optane Memory.  The wireless card supports Wi-Fi 6 making it ready for new routers and Wi-Fi mesh systems that support the new AX wireless standard. 

Out of all the specs, I think the 16GB of Ram is the most important. I have a habit of working with a lot of tabs open in my web browser. 16 GB of Ram is perfect for someone like myself who multi-tasks between a lot of programs and web browsers. In my digital world, 8GB of Ram just won’t cut it.

ASUS VivoBook 15 design

One of the first things I examine in a laptop is the hinge. As I lifted the screen up for the first time, I noticed the laptop sat on the bottom of the screen and the keyboard was slightly angled. This is ASUS ErgoLift design which tilts the keyboard at a 3-degree angle. This creates a comfortable typing experience and provides more airflow for the fan. 

I’m pretty sure the ErgoLift design also limits speaker vibration. Sonically, that little space helps the sound travel without any rattle. I played some music videos on YouTube and the sound was clear and balanced between high and low frequencies at max volume. Just don’t expect to fill a room with music from the speakers. It’s not super loud, but good enough for streaming videos and listening to music while working.  

The keyboard provides a comfortable typing experience. The keys are nicely spaced and respond well. The trackpad is large with a fingerprint button located on the top right corner. Overall, the trackpad was responsive and I didn’t have any issues with the trackpad button. 

Another design feature was the inclusion of a numeric pad. You don’t realize how much you use a numeric keypad until you don’t have one. Despite being condensed into a smaller space, the numeric pad is a great addition that will appeal to anyone who works with numbers a lot. I just wish there was a little more space separating the numeric pad from the rest of the keys. 

ASUS VivoBook 15 display

What caught my attention was the bezel, or lack thereof.  The Vivobook features a 15.6” screen with 1920 x1080 screen resolution. With my ruler, I measured the side bezel at 5mm. The bezel on the top is slightly thicker to accommodate a webcam, but it’s still impressively thin.  

The 15.6” screen provides a lot of real-estate and would be great for anyone who multitasks between multiple windows. There’s nothing fancy about the display itself. While it doesn’t produce sharp colors, I think it will work fine for most people so long as they increase the brightness. Personally, I keep the brightness down to avoid eye strain so it was no issue for me. At default, the display looked dim but improved once I turned the brightness up a little.

ASUS VivoBook 15 camera

Normally, I don’t spend time reviewing the camera on laptops. However, with video conferencing from home becoming the new normal, it’s a feature that needs to be discussed. The camera would not open on the first attempt. The error message suggested it was being blocked by antivirus or Windows needed to be updated. I updated Windows, restarted the laptop, and still, it didn’t work. Even the Get Help virtual assistance could not get the camera working. 

I did get an early version of this laptop so I anticipate the camera on the consumer versions will work. I just won’t be able to report the camera quality. It’s definitely something to look out for in a new laptop.

ASUS VivoBook 15 ports

Often overlooked, ports options on a laptop are very important to me. Thankfully, the VivoBook 15 comes with a nice selection of ports that would appeal to anyone working from home. 

In total, there are three USB Type-A ports and one USB Type C port. These can be used to connect external hard drives, smartphones, and other devices. There’s also a MicroSD slot and an HDMI port for connecting a second monitor. I’ve seen a lot of other laptops comprise on the ports to create ultra-slim designs. It’s nice to see laptops with all the port options a regular user would want, and need at home.

Final thoughts

If the VivoBook 15 was a vehicle, it would be a minivan. It’s something you buy because it comes at a good value, and is equipped to meet your needs. There is nothing fancy about it. It’s a productivity tool and when you look at the specs, you’re getting everything you need in a work or school laptop.

The battery life is not the greatest, and it really didn’t matter to me. I typically use a universal charger at home and keep the laptop charger in my bag. At 3.7 lbs, it’s not super light but not heavy enough to be burdensome. Even the charger is small, so it would be easy to travel in a bag without too much worry.

I wish I had a chance to review the camera, but I couldn’t get it working. Regardless, I think manufacturers like ASUS should put more effort into laptop cameras. Everyone wants to look their best and there’s tremendous opportunity here to create cameras that use built-in AI. Trust me, people will buy a laptop that improves how they look during video conferencing. We’ve seen it happen with smartphones, now it should happen with laptop cameras.

With Black Friday, the holiday season is about to start. For those of you looking to get a deal, now is the perfect time to purchase a new laptop. If you’re looking for a meat-and-potatoes computer for work or school, the ASUS VivoBook 15 certainly fits the bill.

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