ASUS’ hunchbacked W5fe laptop – notable primarily for its SideShow display embedded in the lid – has graced the hands of PC Magazine’s Cisco Cheng, who promptly concentrates most of his review on the sub-display. Seemingly a fixed, mobile version of the ScreenDUO unit coming with the company’s Vista-compatible motherboards, it’s branded as an easy way to check email, schedule and play music without having to turn the computer on.
And to some extent, that’s true. Cisco finds that “it’s one less cover to flip open, one less button to press, and plenty of time saved when you’re on the move and you need information fast” but is also quick to highlight some of the inevitable compromises you’ll have to make.
For a start, the SideShow unit is only independent as long as you’re accessing information from its 1GB of flash memory (which shows up as a separate drive); otherwise, it’ll have to turn the laptop on so as to check the hard-drive. Keeping emails and the calender updated means regularly resuming from standby, which makes me nervous a) for battery life and b) in case you’re running or otherwise moving around a lot and potentially shaking the active hard-drive.
Still, the most likely criticism is perhaps the most readily solved: currently there really aren’t that many SideShow gadgets to actually run. It’s the same issue that Tech Report had with the stand-alone display.
Personally the looks of the laptop turn me off – that hump is too obtrusive – and I’d rather have a wireless SideShow display such as one of the cellphones from the i-mate Ultimate range.