In 2017, screen bezels are about as popular as jelly bracelets or men's rompers. Though laptop makers can't get rid of all the extra space that surrounds their display panels, they can come awfully close. Asus's VivoBook S15 is the latest laptop to go on a bezel diet, shrinking the area around its display so much that it fits a 15.6-inch screen into a compact, 3.3-pound chassis.
Better still, this lightweight laptop starts at only $499, putting it well within reach of budget-conscious consumers. Other laptops, such as the Dell XPS 15 and LG Gram 15 pack 15-inch panels into ultraportable bodies, but those laptops are $999 or more. Considering that 15-inch laptops are the most popular size and the average PC laptop sells for under $450, the VivoBook S15 is ideal for mainstream shoppers.
Just as Dell has branded its super-thin displays as "InfinityEdge" screens, Asus says that the VivoBook S15's display has a "NanoEdge" bezel. The area around the S15's panel is just 7.8mm, which gives it an 80 percent screen-to-body ratio, but is still shy of the XPS 15's 5.7mm bezels. Asus uses a thicker top bezel,which leaves room for a webcam that sits above the screen. Dell's XPS series is infamous for its upward-pointing nosecam.
The VivoBook S15's bezel isn't the only part of the notebook that's slim. The chassis itself is a reasonable 0.7 inches to go with its superb 3.3-pound weight. The XPS 15 weighs a full 4 pounds, but is a svelter 0.6 inches.
Inside, the VivoBook packs a 7th-generation Intel Core Series processor, up to 16GB of RAM and optional Nvidia 940 graphics. It also has a fingerprint sensor for biometric logins with Windows Hello. The laptop will be available with several storage options, including one which has both a 512GB PCIe SSD and a 2TB hard drive with Intel Optane cache memory.
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I had a chance to spend a few moments with a VivoBook S15 at Asus's Computex press conference and was impressed with how light it felt in my hand. Its backlit keyboard, which has 1.4mm of vertical travel, felt snappy to my fingers, but appeared to have just a tiny bit of flex.
The 1080p screen on the VivoBook S15 I saw appeared colorful but a little dim under the bright lights of the demo area. Asus says that the laptop has 178 degree viewing angles, a claim I was unable to verify in my brief time with the system.
The VivoBook S15's body has the texture and look of silver-colored aluminum, but is made of plastic. It's uncommon to see premium materials in a system with a starting price this low.
Asus is known for providing strong back for the buck with low-cost laptops such as the Asus E403SA, which gives you an SSD and full HD screen for under $400. However, the VivoBook S15 could be the best value yet.
Photo: Craig Ferguson / Laptop Mag