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8/19/2019

A Great Laptop for Everyday Use

While Apple has been making strides in the smartwatch business over the years, Google’s Wear OS platform has gone through some fits and starts. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – I’ve always found myself skeptical about recommending a Wear OS smartwatch mainly due to the fact that they’re slow when it comes to software updates, and they all look and feel pretty much the same.

But for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been wearing the Skagen Falster 2 (Rs. 21,995) every day with an open mind. I was desperate to find out if Wear OS has gotten any better over the years. My first impressions of the watch were fairly positive, so I continued using it to, you know, glance my notifications and track my steps.
Skagen Falster 2 Review
Skagen Falster 2

With a price tag of Rs 21,995, the Skagen Falster 2 is not particularly a smartwatch that would fit in everyone’s budget. So, is it worth buying? Well, let’s find out…
Skagen Falster 2 Specifications

The Skagen Falster 2 comes with all the bells and whistles that we’ve come to expect from modern-day smartwatches. It’s available in 40mm size, which in my opinion, is not overly big, and it’ll fit both men and women. Anyways, here’s a quick look at the specs that you need to know about –
Display    1.190-inch (390x390) OLED
Water-resistance    3 ATM
Connectivity    Bluetooth 4.1, Wi-Fi, NFC
Sensors    Accelerometer, Altimeter, Gyroscope, Ambient Light Sensor
Processor    Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100
Dimension    Case Size: 40 x 11mm
Price    Rs. 21,995
Compatibility    Android 4.4+, iOS 9+

Now that’s what’s crammed inside the watch. Now, before we talk about the watch itself, let’s take a quick look at everything that comes inside the box.
Skagen Falster 2 Unboxing

Skagen, as we all know, is a brand that’s known for minimalism, so I wasn’t surprised to see a small box with bare minimum contents. Here, take a look for yourself –

    Skagen Falster 2
    A wireless charger
    Some paperwork

Skagen Falster 2 review

Yes, that’s everything you get inside the box when you buy yourself this smartwatch. I was a little surprised to see that there’s no charging brick. Look, I do understand that the person buying a smartwatch definitely owns a smartphone, so he/ she already has a power brick. However, I found it very annoying during the times when I wanted to charge both my smartphone and the watch at the same time.

I am all for minimalism, but I wish the watch manufacturers would take this into consideration. Anyway, I’ll talk a bit more about the Falster 2’s battery performance a bit later in the review so stay tuned to see whether it is an issue. Now, let’s talk about my favorite aspect of the watch: its design!
Skagen Falster 2 Design and Build Quality

Fossil’s launch event, where the company announced as many as seven new smartwatches, was my first time looking at the Falster 2. I had seen the watch in pictures, but I had never seen the Skagen Falster 2 in person before that. Needless to say, the Skagen Falster 2’s clean and minimal design grabbed my eyeballs almost instantly. They had a couple of different variants of the watch on display, but I was particularly enthralled to see the model with metallic accents and a magnetic mesh band.

As you can see, that’s also the variant which we have with us here for review. At first blush, the watch may look a little less masculine compared to other options that are out there. In fact, a lot of my colleagues at Beebom were quick to judge its appearance. However, I for one think that it looks absolutely phenomenal. I mean, just look at this thing –
Skagen Falster 2
Skagen Falster 2 is a looker

As I mentioned earlier, the Falster 2’s minimal and light design has grown on me since the time I started using it. It has a lightweight design, it’s extremely comfortable to wear, has no unsightly protrusion on the back, and so on. I have so many good things to say about the watch, that I can keep dropping words about it.

If you’ve seen the previous iteration of the watch, then you’ll notice that the new Falster 2 now has three buttons instead of one. The buttons, as you can see, don’t sit flush on the watch’s body. Yes, they’re nice and clicky buttons with great tactile feedback, but I hate the fact that they protrude from the body. If I could change just one thing about the watch’s design, this would be it.
Skagen Falster 2
Skagen Falster 2 has three buttons

The center button also doubles as a rotating crown, making it easier to scroll through different options in the interface. The crown is not as nice as the digital crown found on the Apple Watch though. Don’t get me wrong, it is probably the best rotating button/ crown that I’ve used on any Wear OS smartwatch, but the lack of haptic feedback puts it in a weird spot.

    The Skagen Falster 2’s minimal, yet elegant design made me want to put it on my wrist every single day.

The center button, as I mentioned earlier, is flanked by two more customizable buttons. You can program the buttons to open any app of your choice. I’ve personally set the top button to show me the weather info, whereas the button on the bottom pulls up Google Fit for me. The watch also has 3 ATM water resistance, so it can handle a bit of water without any issues.
Skagen Falster 2
Skagen Falster 2 has a stainless steel casing

The magnetic mesh loop, though it gives a premium look to the watch, has a weird issue. You can say that I am nitpicking but the black rubber ring around the magnetic clasp starts wearing out fairly quickly. It’ll start leaving a black residue on the strap over time, ruining the overall looks of the watch. I use a similar third-party mesh loop with my Fitbit Charge 2, and it’s plagued by the same issue. Skagen, however, has a decent selection of straps for the watch. You can also swap in any 20mm band of your choice, which is just awesome.
Skagen Falster 2
Skagen Falster 2 Strap

That being said, I truly believe that the Skagen Falster 2 deserves all the plaudits for its design. Despite its shortcomings, which we’ll talk about later in this review, the minimal design made me want to put it on my wrist every single day.
Skagen Falster 2 Display

The Skagen Falster 2 has a 1.19-inch display which is a pleasure to look at. It’s an OLED panel with a resolution of 390 x 390 pixels, so the display is crisp and you can see deep blacks and bright whites. The bezels are thinner than the one found on its predecessor, but they’re still too big for my liking. Luckily, the watch faces bundled with the watch are black by default, and they do a great job of masking those ugly bezels around the display.

    Skagen Falster 2’s display is definitely one of my favorite features

Skagen Falster 2
Skagen Falster 2 display

It is a vibrant display that also gets bright enough to be used in direct sunlight. Wear OS offers five different levels of brightness, but the ambient light sensor does an amazing job and has saved me the work of having to fiddle with the brightness setting time and again. Much like most of the smartwatches out there, the Falster 2 has an ‘Always-on’ mode that lets you see the time. This takes a toll on the battery life, but I’ll suggest you keep this option turned on because I found the raise-to-wake feature to be hit-or-miss.

Overall, I really like the display of Skagen Falster 2. Besides the sizable bezels around the display, there’s hardly anything to complain about here. It truly is one of my favorite features of the watch.
Skagen Falster 2 Performance and Software

Before I give my two cents on the performance, I’d like to point out a glaring omission. The Skagen Falster 2 is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor, which, in case you don’t know, was released in February 2016. So yes, it is pretty out of date. New smartwatches powered by the latest Snapdragon Wear 3100 have started showing up on the market, which again makes me a little skeptical about recommending this watch.

That being said, the Falster 2 is running on Google’s new Wear OS software. It’s not the latest version of the software that’s out right now, but it’s far better than what I experienced with Android Wear back in the days of the Moto 360. App loading times are significantly faster than they were before. Scrolling through the app drawer and interacting with the Google Assistant is a lot smoother now.

    Skagen Falster 2’s age-old chipset is a bottleneck

Skagen Falster 2
Skagen Falster 2 Wear OS app

During my usage, I used the watch mostly to glance at my notifications and time, of course. Its fitness-centric features are limited, but I did use the heart rate monitor to keep tabs on my heart rate every now and then. I also loaded some of my favorite apps of choice like Uber, to see if I could use the watch to get things done without pulling out my smartphone. Well, I must say that the resource intensive apps like Uber, in this case, were a bit laggy. The app took a couple of seconds to fully load up, before letting me do anything. I am sure the age-old chipset is the bottleneck here.

Following a lot of criticism for omitting useful features, Skagen decided to turn things around and pack the Falster 2 with all the essentials like GPS, a heart-rate sensor, and NFC. I wasn’t really able to get much use out of the NFC, but you can use it to take advantage of Google Pay to make purchases.
Skagen Flaster 2 Software Experience

The Falster 2 comes loaded with Google’s Wear OS. Right off the bat, I was really impressed with the updated interface. It’s not flawless by any means, but there’s a lot to like here. There are plenty of watch faces that are all themed on simplicity. If you are someone who’s always on the lookout for clean and clutter-free watch faces, then I am sure you’ll really enjoy the stock watch faces that are bundled with the Falster 2. I think this would be a good time to acknowledge the fact the Falster 2 has a custom charging animation, which is a joy to look at. Here, check it out –

I paired the Falster 2 with my iPhone XR mainly to see how Wear OS worked with an iOS device. Unlike some other wearables with which you’ll be prompted to download a bunch of other apps, all I had to do was download Google’s Wear OS app (Play Store).

The app itself is fairly simple to use. It shows things like your Google Fit data based on the metrics collected by the watch, and lets you tweak some other settings like watch faces, notifications, and more. There’s not a lot that you can do with the app, but I feel like it is more than enough for an average user.

    There’s a lot to like about the Wear OS experience on the Skagen Falster 2

Skagen Falster 2 Activity Tracking

I wasn’t interested in using the Falster 2 to monitor my fitness activities mainly because it’s not really a full-fledged fitness-centric watch. I am sure there are other watches out there that can help you do that more efficiently. However, I do have a few observations that I’d like to share.
Skagen Falster 2
Skagen Falster 2 Heart rate monitor

If you are buying the Falster 2 (or any other Wear OS-powered smartwatch), then pairing it with an iPhone is probably not the right move, especially if you are interested in keeping tabs on your fitness activities. I say this because you don’t have the Google Fit app to sync your workouts with. You’ll be restricted to the Wear OS app for now, which only offers a basic glance at your daily activity. Of course, you can download third-party apps like Runtastic or Endomondo, but the native Google Fit app support itself is missing, which is indeed a little disappointing.
Wear OS iPhone
Wear OS app for iOS

But if I have to judge Falster 2’s tracking ability based on the limited data that I have with me, then I’ll say it’s decent. I am not the most active person, as you can clearly see, but it accurately showed me my activity level. The heart rate monitor works well, and it managed to give me a proper reading every time I tried it. Of course, it is not 100% accurate and I’d suggest you rely on dedicated heart rate monitors for medical purposes.
Skagen Falster 2
Skagen Falster 2 Wear OS app
Skagen Falster 2 Battery Life and Connectivity

The battery life is also a major disappointment of the Falster 2. Skagen says it can last “up to 2 days” based on the usage, but I truly think it’s an exaggeration. During my usage, I struggled to get more than a day out of the Falster 2, which is not worth appreciating. Of course, you can get more out of the battery if/ when you switch to the battery saver mode. However, you’ll then have to sacrifice on features like the ‘Always-On’ display, continuous heart-rate tracking, and more.
Skagen Falster 2
Skagen Falster 2 charging

    The battery life is a major disappointment of the Falster 2

The Skagen Falster 2, much like most other smartwatches, is capable of connecting to your smartphone over Bluetooth. It also comes with an inbuilt GPS for outdoor tracking. Falster 2 is using the same sensor found on some other Fossil smartwatches like the Fossil Q Explorist HR. I found it to be pretty efficient and generally quite fast while locating my position.

When it comes to the connection, I found the watch to be a little finicky and extremely unreliable. I even tried pairing the watch with an Android smartphone but that didn’t help either. I am not sure if the issue was limited to my unit, but let me tell you that it was not an enjoyable experience at all. I even ended up missing some of my important notifications because of this.
Skagen Falster 2
Skagen Falster 2 Design

Also unlike Samsung’s Galaxy Watch, you can’t use the Skagen Falster 2 as a hands-free device for taking calls. You’ll have to reach for your phone in order to answer an incoming call. Same is the case with messages. Though the watch shows you notifications from most apps, there’s no option to respond to, say, a message. No, I am not asking for a full-fledged native keyboard to write long messages. I am talking about the ability to dictate short messages or quick reply options. However, none of that is available here, and you’ll have to reach for your phone if you want to take an action any notification. This is particularly disappointing considering the fact that I was able to do this with the Moto 360 back in the days of Android Wear.
Skagen Falster 2: Pros and Cons

As you’ve probably guessed by now, the Skagen Falster 2 is a beautiful piece of gadget that comes with some annoyances that stop it from being perfect. Here’s a quick look at the pros and cons of the watch –
Pros

    Beautiful and minimal design
    Lightweight and comfortable to wear
    Gorgeous OLED display
    Wear OS is an improvement
    GPS, a heart rate monitor, and NFC is a welcoming addition

Cons

    Powered by the dated Snapdragon Wear 2100 chipset
    Mediocre battery life
    Poor notification reply support
    The magnetic mesh loop wears out easily

SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy Watch Review: Perfect Fitness Companion For A Samsung Phone
Skagen Falster 2: Should You Buy It?

The Skagen Falster 2, if you ask me, is undoubtedly one of the best-looking smartwatches that you can buy today. That, in fact, is one of the main reasons why you should be spending Rs. 21,995 on this watch, if you are planning to spend that much at all. Trust me, it is one of those watches that’s guaranteed to bring you joy every time you look at it. Other premium watches that look as good as the Falster 2 carry a more hefty price tag, making it almost impossible for me to recommend.

Skagen Falster 2

But the Falster 2 has its share of problems too. It’s plagued by mediocre battery life, connectivity issues (at least in my case), and more. But a lot of these issues are not just limited to the Falster 2. From what I understand, a majority of other Wear OS watches suffers from similar issues, which puts the entire platform in a weird spot.

That being said, if you are looking for some alternatives, then you must check out Fossil’s Gen 4 Explorist (Rs. 19,995). In fact, Fossil has a lot of other interesting Wear OS smartwatches, and you can find all of them here. If you are an iPhone user, then I’ll suggest you buy an Apple Watch to get the complete experience. The new Apple Watch Series 4 (Rs. 43,900) packs a ton of awesome features and is proven to work flawlessly with an iPhone, complete with almost all the wellness features.

All that aside, I really had a great time using the Skagen Falster 2. I’ve enjoyed it to a point where someone has to pry it off my wrist and force me to put it back in the box. Like me, if you are not specs-inclined and don’t mind charging the watch every night, then you can buy the Skagen Falster 2. You’ll have a great time using it. The market for thin and light laptops only grew more confusing for buyers in 2018. With the arrival of featherweight notebooks to business-savvy Ultrabooks as well as affordable gaming laptops, there are more notebooks on the thin-and-light aisle now than ever before. Many of these don’t come cheap, so if you don’t have deep pockets, then you are faced with even more questions, thanks to loads of affordable options from the likes of Dell, ASUS, HP, Acer and more.

On the same lines, today we’ll be taking a look at the Asus VivoBook S14 S430UN, which is packed with the latest tech, features a sleek design and comes in quirky colors. With a price tag of Rs. 64,990, the VivoBook S14 S430UN doesn’t burn a serious hole in your pocket as well. However, here’s an important question – is it worth your money?
VivoBook S14
ASUS VivoBook S14

Well, I’ve been using the VivoBook S14 as my primary laptop for the past couple of weeks, and I think I can answer that question for you. So read on, as we take an in-depth look at the ASUS VivoBook S14.

Note: We had the S430UA-EB152T variant of the laptop with us for review, which has a Core i5 8250U processor. It’s priced at Rs. 64,990. However, you can get it in a variety of different configurations, starting at Rs 54,990. The performance of the higher-end variants powered by the Core i7 processor will definitely be an improvement.
ASUS VivoBook S14 S430UN Specs

Before we jump into the review, I’d like to talk about the specifications and get that out of the way. The ASUS VivoBook S14 packs in the 8th-gen Core i5 processor, coupled with 8GB DDR4 RAM. It also packs 256GB SSD and 1TB HDD storage. While this particular variant of the laptop only has Intel HD620 graphics, the higher-end variants also pack in an MX150 GPU for improved graphics performance. Here’s a quick look at the hardware that’s powering the ASUS VivoBook S14 –
Dimensions    32.34 x 22.55 x 1.8 cm
Weight    1.4 kgs
Display    14-inch LED-backlit Full HD matte display, with 1920 x 1080 resolution
Processor    Up to Intel Core i7-8550U, clocked at 1.8GHz
Graphics Memory    Up to Nvidia GeForce MX150 (2GB)
RAM     Up to 16GB 2400MHz DDR4
Internal Storage    256GB SATA SSD + 1TB HDD
Connectivity    Dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2
I/O Ports    1 x USB Type-C, 1 x USB Type-A 3.1, 2 x USB 2.0, 1x HDMI, Combo audio jack, MicroSD card reader
Operating System    Windows 10 Home
Battery    42Wh 3-cell lithium-prismatic, 45W charger
Colors    Icicle Gold, Gun Metal, Silver Blue, Star Grey, Firmament Green
ASUS VivoBook S14 S430UN: Design and Build

If you are familiar with ASUS’ VivoBook lineup, or if you’ve ever used one before, then you might already be aware of the superb build quality that these laptops bring to the table. I mean, even some of the more affordable VivoBooks like the budget VivoBook X505, which we really liked has an appealing design.
VivoBook S14
VivoBook S14

I am happy to report that the VivoBook S14 S430UN, which I have here with me is no exception. It’s a well-built laptop that’ll immediately catch your attention. The metal lid on the top has a brushed aluminum finish, giving it a premium look. The laptop weighs under 1.5 kg, which also means that it’s very portable. It’s also hard not to appreciate the VivoBook S14’s sleek design as it only measures 18mm in thickness. It’ll conveniently slip into your backpack, and you won’t even notice its presence. I am coming from a hefty gaming laptop, so I was relieved to give my shoulders some rest from all the heavy lifting.
VivoBook S14
VivoBook S14 has ErgoLift Hinge

I hate to admit this, but I accidentally dropped the VivoBook S14 notebook once from my bed, and I was surprised to see that the laptop made it out without a single scratch or a dent. My personal gaming laptop, which also took a fall from the same height is now suffering from serious hinge issues. So believe me when I say that the VivoBook S14 is a well-built machine.

Another interesting design aspect about the VivoBook S14 is its ErgoLift hinge. If you’re not familiar with the ErgoLift hinge, it basically lifts the laptop by 3.5° when it’s in the open position. The advantages? Well, it helps the laptop cool more efficiently and makes it more comfortable to type. I am a huge fan of this implementation, and I wish more laptops would ship with this kind of hinge. C’mon ASUS make it happen, please.

The VivoBook S14 is available in a variety of different color options. As you can see, I’ve been using the Star Grey version that has red accents along the flanks. ‘Icicle Gold’ and ‘Gun Metal’ are also some of the best looking colors in my opinion, but I think you can’t go wrong with any of them. Just pick the one that suits your personality best.

    The ASUS VivoBook S14 has an amazing build quality and the ErgoLift hinge makes it stand out from the sea of other thin and light laptops.

ASUS VivoBook S14 S430UN: Display

The VivoBook S14’s display deserves a special mention too. It’s a 14-inch FullHD LED panel, and it looks absolutely gorgeous. It’s got a matte finish that eliminates glare and reflections, and makes it easier on your eyes. The bezels around the panel, as you can see, are very minimal, and it’s a joy to look at it. According to ASUS, it’s a three-sided NanoEdge display with an 84-percent screen-to-body ratio. Despite the slim bezels, I am glad that the webcam is placed exactly where it belongs.
Vivobook s14 display
The VivoBook S14 has a beautiful display

You are looking at an LED panel, so the colors are nice and vibrant. You’ll have a great time editing images on Photoshop and Lightroom or casually chopping up some videos. The colors are full of life, and the experience is truly immersive. Be it watching videos and TV shows or simply browsing the web, I had a blast using this display. I’d also like to point out that the display has really good viewing angles. This is definitely one of those laptops which you can use to consume content with your friends or flat-mates.
VivoBook S14
The VivoBook S14 has 84% screen-to-body ratio
ASUS VivoBook S14 S430UN: Ports and Connectivity

The ASUS VivoBook S14 has a good port selection. It’s got three USB Type A ports (2 USB 2.0 and a USB 3.0), one Type C 3.1 port, an HDMI port, a 3.5 mm headphone jack, and a microSD card slot. Unlike some older VivoBook models, the ports on the VivoBook S14 S430UN are evenly distributed on both sides, so I have no complaints there.
VivoBook S14
Ports array on the left side of the VivoBook S14

If I have to nitpick, then I’ll say that it would have been nice to have a full-sized SD card slot instead of the microSD option here. It’s not a deal-breaker by any means, but it’s definitely worth making a note of, if you plan to use the laptop for editing photos from your DSLR.
VivoBook S14
Ports array on the right side of the VivoBook S14

In terms of wireless connectivity, the VivoBook S14 sports Dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi with advanced Wi-Fi Master technology and Bluetooth V4.2 support. I personally had no connectivity issues whatsoever while using both the Wi-Fi or a Bluetooth peripheral.

    The ASUS VivoBook S14 comes packed with a good selection of ports. I am happy to report that there’s no need to embrace the dongle-life with this laptop.

ASUS VivoBook S14 S430UN: Keyboard

The VivoBook S14 is fitted with an awesome keyboard. I am not too sure if it’s because of the ErgoLift design, but it’s undoubtedly one of my favorite keyboards to type on. As a professional writer, I’ve used a lot of keyboards throughout my career, and the one on the VivoBook S14 is certainly one of the best I’ve used.
VivoBook S14
VivoBook S14 has an amazing keyboard

The keys have 1.4mm of key travel, which is pretty good for my liking. They also have a matte finish, and there’s little to no flex on the deck. I also love that there’s enough space between the keys. Getting used to different keyboards is one of the major gripes that I have while reviewing laptops, but my writing speed wasn’t affected even a little bit while testing out the VivoBook S14. That’s how good the keyboard really is.

One of the major complaints that my colleague Anmol had with VivoBook X505 was the fact that there was no LED notification light on the Caps Lock key. Well, that truly is an absurd decision, and I am glad that I didn’t have to put with that, as the VivoBook S14 has one. However, I’d like to point out that you won’t be getting a full-sized keyboard, so you’ll still be reaching out for the number keys on the top.

Anyway, did I tell you that the keys are backlit and they have red accents? Yes, they look really pretty at night. Here, check it out –
VivoBook S14
VivoBook S14 Keyboard

    Overall, typing on the VivoBook S14’s keyboard is a breeze, and Ergolift hinge makes it that much better. It’s easily one of the best keyboards that I’ve ever used!

ASUS VivoBook S14 S430UN: Touchpad

A touchpad, in my opinion, can make or break your experience with a laptop. That’s one thing that you’ll find yourself using the most to interact with the laptop after all. Fortunately, the ASUS VivoBook S14 has a really good touchpad. It makes use of the Precision drivers on Windows 10, which is always a positive sign.
VivoBook S14
VivoBook S14 Touchpad

The touchpad is spacious enough to let me use all the gestures, which, by the way, are really responsive. I wish it had two separate clickable buttons, but I guess those are not cool anymore. In terms of the look, the smooth touchpad is pretty basic. There’s also a fingerprint scanner on the right-top corner, that makes use of the Windows Hello feature. It’s definitely not as fast as a smartphone fingerprint scanner, but it works really well and I find myself using it all the time.

    Overall, the touchpad on the VivoBook S14 is really good. The added fingerprint scanner is also a nice touch.

ASUS VivoBook S14 S430UN: Audio

I am not an audiophile by any means, but I believe that you don’t need to be one to figure out that the audio playback is one of the major let-downs of this particular laptop. I for one was really excited about the ‘SonicMaster’ branding on the deck. But after listening to a couple of songs on my playlist, I had heard enough to realize that it’s not up to the mark.

First off, I’d like to talk about the placement of the speakers. They’re positioned literally at the bottom of the laptop, which makes absolutely no sense. Yes, the ErgoLift hinge does help a little, but I can’t stress enough about how easy it is to muffle the sound. Look, the speakers are meant to be either on the top facing upwards or on the front, facing the user. Any other placements are a big no for me.
VivoBook S14
The VivoBook S14 speaker

By now, I wasn’t expecting the speakers to be exceptional, but sadly, they’re not even enough for casual listening. This one time, I remember watching an episode of Joe Rogan’s podcast (an awesome YouTube channel BTW), and I wasn’t even able to hear what the people in the video are saying. I had to go looking for my headphones in just a couple of minutes. The audio output is very low, it’s not well-balanced, and lacks bass as well. Yes, the output is slightly better when you’re placing the laptop on a table or some other flat surface, but I find myself using my laptop on my lap (duh!), so it is indeed a deal-breaker for me.

The VivoBook S14 is not the only VivoBook to be plagued by the poor audio quality. Some other VivoBooks that my colleagues have reviewed here at Beebom also had similar experiences.
ASUS VivoBook S14 S430UN: Camera

I am yet to use a decent webcam on any laptop, and the one on the VivoBook S14 is no exception. ASUS says that it has bundled the laptop with an HD webcam, but it really is just a normal webcam that still has a sub-par picture quality. Here, check out the quality yourself –

Vivobook s14 webcam sample

But as I had mentioned earlier in this review, I am glad that ASUS decided to place it in the right spot despite having smaller bezels. I personally don’t use the webcam on a laptop for anything, really. I handle all my video calls on the phone. But if you are someone who is looking for a good quality webcam then you’ll have to look somewhere else.
VivoBook S14
VivoBook S14 webcam placement
ASUS VivoBook S14 S430UN: Performance

For the price tag of Rs. 64,990, you’ll be buying yourself into a laptop that’s powered by an 8th generation Intel Core i5 8250U processor clocked at 1.6Ghz. It comes with Intel’s UHD Graphics 620, and also 8GB RAM. You’re also getting a dual-storage machine that comprises of a 256GB SSD and 1TB HDD. Of course, there’s always an option to spend more and get a variant with better internals.

vivobook s14
ASUS VivoBook S14: Benchmarks

Before I talk about my day-to-day experience, let’s take a look at some numbers, shall we? Much like any other laptop that I’ve reviewed, I did run a few benchmarks on the VivoBook S14. Well, here’s how it performed –

I started off with the 3DMark’s Fire Strike test, in which the laptop managed to score 940 with a graphics score of 1,011, and a Physics score of 8,049. In the GeekBench test, the 8th Gen Core i5 processor managed to get 4,011 on the single-core score, and 13,977 on the multi-core score.

The VivoBook S14 also managed to post decent results, getting 52.7 fps in Cinebench R15’s OpenGL test. The laptop was also able to render an image from the Blender video archive in under 15 minutes, which is better than the VivoBook X505 that’s powered by the Ryzen 5 2550U chipset.

ASUS VivoBook S14: Day-to-Day Performance

But does the benchmark results translate to real-world performance? Well, I’d say yes. This super-portable laptop was able to power through most of my day-to-day tasks without breaking a sweat. Thanks to the SSD, the laptop was very quick at booting Windows every single time. Needless to say, it also allows for a super-fast performance when it comes to system related tasks.
ASUS VivoBook S14
VivoBook S14 is a solid performer

During my review period, I used the laptop to draft articles, web browsing, image editing in Photoshop, etc., and I had no complaints whatsoever. And as you probably already know, the Intel UHD 620 Graphics is not ideal for gaming. Yes, it can handle some light games, but there’s absolutely no point trying to run a AAA title, pushing the laptop to its limits.

However, I did play some popular titles like Fortnite and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and I was only getting mediocre frame rates even while running the said titles in low-settings. I also tried playing PUBG Mobile on the VivoBook S14 using an emulator, and I was able to get playable frame rates with everything set to low.

    Overall, I’d say that the VivoBook S14 is a solid performer when it comes to day-to-day usage. However, you might want to the buy the Core i7 variant of the laptop with MX150 GPU to satisfy your gaming needs.

ASUS VivoBook S14 S430UN: Thermals

When it comes to thermals, the VivoBook S14 managed to keep things cool throughout my usage. I faced no throttling issues whatsoever, which is always a good sign. The laptop was constantly running at around 40 degrees Celsius, which is pretty normal.
VivoBook S14
VivoBook S14

As you can see, the VivoBook S14 has vents on top of the keyboard deck where the hot air is thrown out of the laptop. The fan only kicks-in when doing resource-intensive tasks such as gaming or running benchmarks. However, it doesn’t really get loud, so no complaints there as well.
VivoBook S14
VivoBook S14 back
ASUS VivoBook S14 S430UN: Battery Life

    The VivoBook S14 has a decent battery life, and you won’t find yourself hugging a power socket all the time!

The VivoBook S14 has a 42Whr 3-cell lithium-prismatic battery. According to ASUS, the laptop should last you for about 7 hours of usage. However during my usage, I only managed to get around four and a half hours of on time while using the laptop in performance mode, and around six hours while using it in the power-saving mode. Given the VivoBook’s portable form-factor, I’d say that’s sweet, but other laptops such as the Asus Zenbook 13, which starts at the same price as our unit, offer you longer battery life.
VivoBook S14
The VivoBook S14 has a 42Whr battery

It is also worth pointing out that the VivoBook S14 supports fast-charging, so you’ll be able to fully charge the battery in about an hour. Now that’s a relief considering the fact that you won’t be hugging a power socket all the time.
ASUS VivoBook S14 S430UN: Pros and Cons

Now that we’ve discussed almost everything about the VivoBook S14, let me give you a quick overview by pointing out the pros and cons –
Pros

    Beautiful design and amazing build quality
    Super-portable form factor
    The keyboard is a joy to use
    Really good display

Cons

    Speakers are disappointing
    No Ethernet port
    The battery is decent at best

SEE ALSO: Asus VivoBook X505 Review: Ryzen-Powered Versatile Machine
ASUS VivoBook S14 S430UN: Should You Buy it?

The ASUS VivoBook S14 is a really good laptop that offers a display, has an amazing design and build quality, and an excellent keyboard. It can also handle your day-to-day tasks with ease. The highlight of the laptop, however, is its portable form factor.

vivobook s14

With a price tag of Rs. 64,990, it’s safe to say that the VivoBook S14 is locking horns with the likes of the Lenovo 330S (starts at Rs. 55,990), HP Pavilion X360 (starts at Rs. 51,290) and more. However, all these laptops are unique in their own way. Some offer better performance, while others have good looks. The Asus ZenBook 13 (starts at Rs. 64,490) is a really good option, and so is the Dell Inspiron 13 (starts at Rs. 68,990). They both have a very portable form factor and are powered by Intel’s 8th gen processors as well.

The ASUS VivoBook S14 is a really good laptop for its price. Yes, you can’t play games, but it’s a great machine that’s capable enough to compete with other laptops in this price range. Add the ErgoLift hinge and quirky color options to that, and you’ve got yourself a laptop that looks just as pretty as other expensive Ultrabooks in the market.

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