As the consumer laptop market starts to fizzle out and vendors look elsewhere to maintain profitability, there has been renewed interest in the enterprise/corporate market with the likes of MSI and Microsoft deploying business-friendly devices in a bid to improve their margins.
Advantages: Smart overall design, MIL-STD 810G graded, 3-year international warranty, long battery life
Disadvantages: No webcam
And you may not be familiar with it, but popular laptop manufacturer Asus does have a professional range – aptly named AsusPro – and its latest flagship model, the B9440UA, has just gone on sale. Announced earlier this year at CES 2017, the device is aimed squarely at those aspiring to own a business laptop that can rival the likes of Apple’s MacBook Air or Dell’s XPS 13.
Why Asus didn’t simply go for a professional edition of the ZenBook, we’re not sure. The firm did make the Asus ZenBook Pro UX501, but that was launched nearly two years ago, and at 2.27kg, it’s too heavy to be considered as a thin-and-light laptop (rather, this model had the Apple MacBook Pro firmly in its sights). Instead, Asus went for a completely new design with an elevated keyboard that reminded us of the fantastic but ultimately doomed Dell Adamo XPS from 2011. Hailed as the world’s lightest 14-inch business laptop, the B9440UA weighs just over 1kg, and it’s about 150g lighter than the Dell XPS 13, arguably one of the best designed premium laptops around.
There’s no debate about the look of the B9440UA: it has been designed to be light rather than thin, and does so with style and attention to detail (for example, the AsusPro name is etched on the back of the device).Asus used a magnesium alloy for the chassis to improve its robustness. That said, both the screen and the keyboard displayed a degree of flex – not a lot, but still noticeable to those for whom these details matter.Both input peripherals are comfortable to use: the keyboard, a chiclet water-resistant model, provides great feedback and decent travel without being too noisy, while the generously-sized touchpad is equally balanced.
The 48Whr 4-cell battery should provide this notebook with some serious battery life (up to 10 hours according to Asus), and its minuscule power supply unit can deliver up to 65W (at 20V) and down to 15W (at 5V) making it ideal to charge newer compatible smartphones faster.
The review sample that was sent to us used an Intel Core i5-7200U CPU (a 15W part) with 8GB of system RAM and a 512GB Micron 1100 3D NAND M2.2280 SSD.
Note that Asus bundled a 3-year international warranty with the B9440UA and it comes with Windows 10 Pro by default, two significant USPs in our view. Sound is handled by Harman Kardon speakers and is surprisingly bassy given the layout of the laptop.