ASUS N46, N56 and N76 Hands-On: Multimedia With Extreme Viewing Angles

Good enough to serve as an entertainment system for a dorm room or small living room, ASUS's N Series of multimedia notebooks have long impressed with their unique looks and strong sound systems. The company showed off its new line of Ivy-bridge powered N Series notebooks in 14, 15-inch and 17-inch form factors at Computex 2012 which impressed with their strong viewing angles and stunning designs.

Dubbed the ASUS N46, N56 and N76 respectively, the new notebooks started trickling out into the marketplace in May, with configs of the 15-inch N56 and N76 available currently on Amazon. However, Computex Taipei was the first time we got to see these systems close up.

All three notebooks have dark brown aluminum lids emblazoned with a light-up ASUS logo, and matte aluminum decks and sides. The decks feature a ripple pattern of black dots that emanate from the top down and serve as speaker holes. Apart from the ripple pattern, the deck, with its dark brown chiclet keyboard and silver clickpad, looks a lot like a MacBook's. The system bottom is composed of smooth black plastic.

All three systems feature SonicMaster audio technology with Bang and Olufsen speakers and matte screens that promise up to 150 degree viewing angles In our brief hands-on experience the screens stayed extremely bright and colorful even when we moved all the way to the left or right of the display. At the loud and crowded ASUS booth, it was impossible for us to judge the quality of the speakers.

Specs-wise, the 14-inch ASUS N46 sports a 1366 x 768 display, Nvidia GT 630M graphics, up to 8GB of RAM, up to a 1 TB hard drive and a choice of 3rd Generation Core Series CPUs. This is no thin and light as it weighs 5.29 pounds and measures 1.33 inches thick. 

The 15.6-inch ASUS N56 has either a 1366 x 768 or 1920 x 1080 screen, Nvidia GT 650M graphics, along with the same RAM, CPU and hard drive choices. The N56 is either 1.27 or 1.33 inches thick, depending on which CPU it has, and weighs 5.95 pounds.

Amazon currently sells two configurations of the N56: the N56VZ-ES71, which has a 1366 x 768 display, 500GB hard drive, and 2.3-GHz Core i7-3610QM processor, and the ASUS N56VZ-DS71 which has the same CPU, but 8GB  of RAM and a 750GB hard drive. The models sell for $999 and $1323,40 respectively.

The 17-inch ASUS N76 sports a full HD, either a 1600 x 900 or 1920 x 1080 screen with either Nvidia GT 630M or 650M graphics and the possibility of dual hard drives. It weighs 7.93 pounds and is either 1.33 or 1.37 inches thick, depending on CPU. Amazon currently sells a single configuration of the N76, the $1,349 ASUS N76VZ which has an Intel Core i7-3610QM CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 1920 x 1080 display, GT 650M graphics and a 1TB 7,200 rpm hard drive.

In our brief look at the three ASUS N series notebooks on display at the company's Computex booth, we were both intrigued by the design and impressed with the viewing angles. We look forward to reviewing one or more of the N Series systems soon, but in the mean time, check out our hands-on video and gallery below.

Avram Piltch
Online Editorial Director
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master's degree in English from NYU.