ChannelPro October 2017 : Page 8

REVIEW ASUSPRO B9440: Thin, Fast, and Stylish ASUS may not call this impressive laptop an Ultrabook, but you can. By James E. Gaskin LAPTOP TECHNOLOGIES CONTINUE to impress. Between the latest mobile chipsets, solid-state disks, and continually improving displays, each new model seems to leapfrog to the top. The new ASUSPRO B9440, which is particularly light and thin, is no exception. In fact, it is so advanced we expect it to maintain that lead for some time. We’re not sure if a failure to meet Intel criteria of some kind is the reason ASUS doesn’t call this product an Ultrabook, but it sure looks like one. Barely over one-half-inch thick, the 2.3-pound device packs 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD, all powered by a seventh-generation Intel Core i5 7300U pro-cessor. Those specifications make this a light and thin workhorse. ASUS just calls it a “beautiful business laptop” that doesn’t compro-mise on performance. If we had our way, its image would appear in the dictionary next to the word “Ultrabook.” Getting Started The ASUSPRO B9440 packaging appeals to business professionals as well as retail buyers. The company’s slogan, “In Search of Incred-ible,” seems a bit over the top, but based on the slim and slight nature of this laptop, the hype seems completely appropriate. The matte gray case, made of a magnesium aluminum alloy, ap-pears flimsy but feels surprisingly rigid. A bright silver ASUS logo is the only decoration or contrasting color on the outside—if you con-sider gray a different color, that is. Thin laptops typically have little room for ports, and there are darn few on the B9440. In this case, the total is three: two USB 3.1 Type-C ports and a 3.5 mm headphone/microphone jack. There is no Ethernet port built into the case, or even on the small ASUS-provided dongle that can be used with a traditional USB port, USB Type-C port, and HDMI interface. Luckily, the unit’s wireless speeds reach the top of the chart as measured on our 100 Mbps internet link. Its HDMI output is limited to 1920x1080, same as the screen, which is an odd design choice considering that the device includes Intel’s integrated HD Graphics 620 support. The narrow bezel around the bright screen draws attention to a missing component: the webcam. This PC may not be a great choice for those of you who participate in a fair amount of video-conferences, unless you’re OK using your smart-phone for that. There are only two small LED lights on the left side near the screen, which show power/charging and drive activity. You can’t really see either when using the laptop. That’s another consequence of having such a small, thin case. Opening the lid provides another surprise. The design is unique. In fact, we can’t remember ever coming across anything like it. When you raise the top, the keyboard elevates approximately one-half inch to provide a better typing angle. And its 4-x 2.6-inch trackpad scarcely generated any disrup-tions due to false or light touches. Though the device has the feel of a 13-inch laptop, its screen actually measures 14 inches with an extremely thin bezel. The nontouch (which is fine with us) screen is bright and sharp. Other laptops may offer higher resolution, but 8 OCTOBER 2017 ChannelProNetwork.com

Review

James E. Gaskin

ASUSPRO B9440: Thin, Fast, and Stylish

ASUS may not call this impressive laptop an Ultrabook, but you can.

LAPTOP TECHNOLOGIES CONTINUE to impress. Between the latest mobile chipsets, solid-state disks, and continually improving displays, each new model seems to leapfrog to the top. The new ASUSPRO B9440, which is particularly light and thin, is no exception. In fact, it is so advanced we expect it to maintain that lead for some time.

We’re not sure if a failure to meet Intel criteria of some kind is the reason ASUS doesn’t call this product an Ultrabook, but it sure looks like one. Barely over one-half-inch thick, the 2.3-pound device packs 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD, all powered by a seventh-generation Intel Core i5 7300U processor. Those specifications make this a light and thin workhorse. ASUS just calls it a “beautiful business laptop” that doesn’t compromise on performance. If we had our way, its image would appear in the dictionary next to the word “Ultrabook.”

Getting Started

The ASUSPRO B9440 packaging appeals to business professionals as well as retail buyers. The company’s slogan, “In Search of Incredible,” seems a bit over the top, but based on the slim and slight nature of this laptop, the hype seems completely appropriate.

The matte gray case, made of a magnesium aluminum alloy, appears flimsy but feels surprisingly rigid. A bright silver ASUS logo is the only decoration or contrasting color on the outside—if you consider gray a different color, that is.

Thin laptops typically have little room for ports, and there are darn few on the B9440. In this case, the total is three: two USB 3.1 Type-C ports and a 3.5 mm headphone/microphone jack. There is no Ethernet port built into the case, or even on the small ASUS-provided dongle that can be used with a traditional USB port, USB Type-C port, and HDMI interface. Luckily, the unit’s wireless speeds reach the top of the chart as measured on our 100 Mbps internet link. Its HDMI output is limited to 1920x1080, same as the screen, which is an odd design choice considering that the device includes Intel’s integrated HD Graphics 620 support.

The narrow bezel around the bright screen draws attention to a missing component: the webcam. This PC may not be a great choice for those of you who participate in a fair amount of video-conferences, unless you’re OK using your smartphone for that.

There are only two small LED lights on the left side near the screen, which show power/charging and drive activity. You can’t really see either when using the laptop. That’s another consequence of having such a small, thin case.

Opening the lid provides another surprise. The design is unique. In fact, we can’t remember ever coming across anything like it. When you raise the top, the keyboard elevates approximately one-half inch to provide a better typing angle. And its 4- x 2.6-inch trackpad scarcely generated any disruptions due to false or light touches.

Though the device has the feel of a 13-inch laptop, its screen actually measures 14 inches with an extremely thin bezel. The nontouch (which is fine with us) screen is bright and sharp. Other laptops may offer higher resolution, but they usually come with a premium price. The 14-inch screen has a similar pixel count as ASUS’ desktop models, meaning no eyestrain or video smearing.

The ASUSPRO B9440 employs Microsoft’s Windows 10 Pro operating system. As usual, the company curbs bloatware and the ASUS Business Manager app is extremely useful (registration is simple, too). The unit also includes a file shredder, an easy way to create a recovery disk using a USB-linked storage device and quick access to system restoration points, and other useful shortcuts.

Take Your ASUS to Work

The “triple-speed” ASUS claims for its SSD may actually be accurate. Booting was fast, requiring approximately 15 seconds, even with the fingerprint reader application engaged. That security measure took us a few minutes to set up, but once configured worked flawlessly.

Except for 17-inch laptops, size constraints typically restrict available keyboard options. Thin models also have little or no room for deep key travel like we find on desktop units and typewriters. The ASUS B9440’s keyboard does surprisingly well in this area. The key surfaces have a slight indent to allow for comfortable and accurate typing despite the restricted travel. The keyboard on every laptop takes some getting used to, but we were pounding away in no time on this one with fewer mistakes than we normally encounter on notebooks.

While a diminished number of function and direction keys is expected in thin laptops, this model’s On-Off switch placement was concerning, as it is located just above Backspace and beside the Delete button. We were surprised that we never accidentally turned it off. When we purposely hit the key, the RAM and SSD suspended our work immediately. Fortunately, pressing the Enter or On-Off keys brought everything back just as it was. Turns out we were worried for nothing.

Another frequent complaint with laptops is poor sound quality. Not on this unit. The Harman Kardon “tuning” design provides amazing performance for a laptop, and its volume is impressive. When we streamed a string quartet, we could even hear the distinct sound of the cello. Rock and EDM fans won’t be satisfied with its lack of rich bass and kick drum, though they are audible. In fact, the unit tops most other laptops in that department.

The advertised 10-hour battery life seems right. As usual with Windows, we received variable “time left” readings. It’s hard to blame ASUS for that issue.

For those who need a sleek, stylish, fast, and easy-to-carry laptop, the ASUSPRO B9440 is well worth a look. Its keyboard, sound, and SSD speed are better than most competitive products. Despite its negligible weight, this device seems strong enough to provide years of service creating spreadsheets and crunching numbers. It’s fast and looks good. We sincerely hate to send it back.

JAMES E. GASKIN is a ChannelPro contributing editor and former reseller based in Dallas.

Read the full article at http://digital.channelprosmb.com/article/Review/2893142/441357/article.html.

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