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Review #7: Asus G551JK Republic of Gamers laptop

16 February 2015
Posted in: 2015 special, Gaming, Reviews, Tech | 2 Comments
Asus G551JK

The beautiful beast: Asus G551JK gaming laptop. (Photo: Asus)

The best thing about being a tech writer is that you get gadgets to play with. Unfortunately, you have to give them back eventually. Be that as it may, ever since I found out—and this was eons ago—that ‘gaming laptop’ is a real thing and not a figment of my wishful imagination, I’ve always wanted one. So when the Asus G551JK was offered to me for a couple of weeks, I was beside myself with joy.

52 reviews of 2015The G551JK is one of Asus’ Republic of Gamers series of gaming machines. And this is a beautiful beast. The red-and-black colour combination is stunning and the brushed-metal outside is complimented with a red Asus logo that illuminates when the computer starts up, which is a nice touch. The red-backlit keyboard—with the W, S, A, D keys highlighted with red bevels—makes you want to turn off the room lights right away. The screen and keyboard have a matte finish, a welcome change from the usual glossiness. I’m told that the machine comes with an Asus gaming mouse and headset, but these were not included in my review unit.

Let’s get the specs out of the way: the Asus G551JK is powered by an Intel Core i7-4710HQ 2.5GHz processor going up to 3.5GHz with Turbo Boost, with 8GB of RAM and a 1TB hard disk. This is complimented by an NVIDIA GeForce GTX850M graphics card with 2GB of DDR3 RAM. There is a 6x Blu-Ray optical drive, card reader, HDMI port and three USB ports. The screen is a 15.6-inch full HD IPS LCD screen, with a maximum resolution of 1920x1080px. All of this weighs in at an hefty 2.7kg, but then, I would use it to set up my gaming corner and not lug it about everywhere.

From a user perspective, the G551JK was comfortable to use. Having small hands, I’ve often had a problem with laptops much smaller than this one, with things being hard to reach, especially during gaming when quick reactions are key. With this machine, there was enough space to rest your hands and reach the right buttons and trackpad comfortably. The keyless trackpad—that is, no dedicated right- and left-click buttons—was particularly impressive. It is multitouch, with tap-to-click enabled and nicely responsive.

The laptop comes preinstalled with Windows 8.1 and starts up really fast. I tested it out with Hitman: Absolution at ‘ultra’ settings, not because the game has heavy demands, but because I’ve been consumed with finishing the game and since I’d been playing it recently, I could easily compare. Well, the performance was fantastic. What few hiccups there were were in no part to do with the hardware (hint: you need to run it in Windows 7 compatible mode). The machine zipped through Absolution and made no bones about my incessant loading and reloading. The screen is fantastic, including the viewing angles. Mention must be made about the cooling fan—effective and quiet.

The only place that the Asus G551JK was found wanting in my limited use was battery life. In normal circumstances, that is, non-gaming, it gave me about three hours. Even my three-and-a-half-year-old MacBook Pro can easily beat that. The capslock indicator is another thing I had a problem with—a tiny light towards the bottom of the machine that indicates if capslock is on is a bit too subtle for convenience.

In sum, the user experience was extremely satisfactory. At Rs 82,999, it is not bad value for money. If you’re on the lookout for a gaming monster, you could do seriously worse than snag this one.

RATING: 8/10

~PD

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Week #16: A mini-crisis

22 April 2014
Posted in: 2014 special, Tech, Writing | 1 Comment

52 weeks of reading and writing
This is going to be quick and dirty because I’m currently involved in some fire-fighting. I’m sure there’s a lesson in this for all of us, I’m just not sure what it is yet.

This is what happened:

lock and keyI usually password-protect all my writing work. Even on my own computer. I don’t know why—it’s a habit from the days I used to share my computer and I still do it. This evening, I found that the ODT file containing the manuscript of my latest novel wasn’t opening. The error message OpenOffice kept giving me was that my password was wrong. After a few minutes being convinced that I was losing my mind, I had the brainwave of trying another file, also password-protected, with a different password. And sure enough, same problem.

That’s when I realized that my brain was intact. But something else was Very Wrong.

I started to retrace my steps. The file had been accessible in the afternoon, so in what way had I tinkered with my machine since then? The answer: installed a new printer, including printer software, and when a message from Keychain popped up, I remember not paying too much attention to it and allowing it to go ahead

There was no need to panic too much since I Dropbox my work files every night and periodically take other sorts of back-ups. So I’d lost a maximum of half a day’s work, but it was still annoying (not to mention a jolt to the ego). In order to check if my files were okay, I went to Windows, copied the files over there and tried to open them. It worked. Phew. So I haven’t lost any of my work, just some time.

Now I’m off to figure out how to sort out the mess on Mac OS. I’m blaming the HP software for messing with it and find myself in the unlikely position of being grateful to Windows for keeping me sane.

Maybe that’s the lesson! And of course, there’s no excuse for not paying attention when messages pop up on your screen.

~PD

(Photo credit: ba1969)

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Week 7: New horizons and some ongoing ones

19 February 2014
Posted in: 2014 special, Tech, Writing | No Comments

52 weeks
This week 7 post is just a bit late, but for a change it’s not because of the usual excuse (in other words, laziness). In fact, I’ve been very busy with all things reading and writing—a publishing conference and a workshop on literary innovation in children’s writing.

Digital future

I was an accidental audience member at the Globalocal 2014 publishing conference on 13 and 14 February in Delhi, when I was asked to be a rapporteur. It started out as just a job, but ended up being a very interesting couple of days, where a range of professionals from publishing and other allied fields talked about how technology is changing the way we look at content, how we produce it and how we interact with it, consume it.

What was interesting was the CEOs’ Roundtable, where they spoke of the “disruptive influence” of technology on readers and reading. This is not disruptive in the destructive sense; rather, a disruption in the form of a change in established habits and norms. It doesn’t need to be spelt out—how we read is changing and if the publishing industry doesn’t want to be left behind, it needs to evolve and do it fast. My report on the CEOs’ Roundtable on the Frankfurt Book Fair blog is here.

The second day’s roundtable was on STM (scientific, technical and mathematical publishing), where there was a discussion on the changing nature of copyright. The other interesting concept I was introduced to was open access, a way to make publicly funded research available to the public (well, specifically scholars and researchers, who might be able to make use of such information. Emma House of the Publishers’ Association, UK, had spoken in brief about open access at the CEOs’ Roundtable, and this was further discussed at the STM one. My report for the Frankfurt Book fair blog can be read here.

Collaborations in children’s literature

This week I’ve been attending a workshop organized by Amanda Morrison and Robin Kershew of RKPix, funded by the Australia India Council, talking about the “digital disruption” and looking at new ways to collaborate and innovate on children’s content. Cross-cultural exchanges could play a major role is such collaborative projects. Participants include Ken Spillman, Priya Kuriyan and Chris Nixon. The workshop is still going on, so details will come along later.

Speaking of cross-border collaboration, especially between Indian and Australia, this is a good time to briefly mention an exciting project I’m part of: an anthology of young adult feminist speculative fiction, where ten Indian and ten Australian authors come together to showcase their ideas of a future world. I’m one of the co-editors of the volume along with Kirsty Murray, and Anita Roy is an associate editor. The book is titled Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean, and is slated for publication in November 2014 (the Indian edition by Young Zubaan) and April 2015 (the Aussie edition by Allen & Unwin). More later!

~PD

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