The Asus E203MA-TBCL232A is a budget laptop, built into a stylish aesthetic, good build quality and nothing else to make it stand out from the crowd. It has a comfortable keyboard and reasonable price, but its screen and short battery life leave a lot to be desired.
- A suave, polished design for the price.
- Light and portable
- Comfortable keyboard
- Mediocre battery life
- Middling performance
- Its display is rather dull and dim
The Asus is an 11.6-inch laptop targeted for budget buyers who need the full Windows experience, something that keeps them from Chromebooks that come with the limitations of Chrome OS. For starters, it has most of the features you’d need as a student, and a few features you’d need for basic home computing, but skimps on the features you would need if you’re a pro-user out to make a kill. It sports a stylish design, is reasonably priced but fails to impress on anything else. Battery life is short, display mediocre and the Celeron processor isn’t that powerful.
While we didn’t expect blazing speeds at this price, a few perks like better battery life would go a long way to make users happy. And, competing notebooks like the Lenovo IdeaPad 120s offer better performance and longer battery life, for around the same price.
Design and Features
The VivoBook E203MA is a budget laptop, and it feels exactly that. It gets a nice honeycomb lid with a silver Asus logo in the middle, and the party ends there. The body is cut from plastic, with a convincing build quality that doesn’t have gaps or sharp edges on the outside. The lid tends to be a fingerprint magnet, which is common in budget laptops. Once you flip it open, there is an 11.6-inch screen, surrounded by a thick bezel set on a gray plastic deck.
For an 11-inch laptop, connectivity is excellent. There is a total of three USB ports (2 USB 3.1 Gen 1, 1 USB-C Gen 1) and an HDMI port. Others include a headphone/microphone jack, a microSD reader, an 802.11ac Wi-Fi card and Bluetooth 4.1. It weighs 2.2 pounds and is 0.7 inches thick, which is at par with most 11-inch laptops.
Display and Keyboard
On the VivoBook E203MA, there is an 11.6-inch display with a max resolution of 1366-by-768, which is not exceptionally bright like you’d find on a Chromebook going for the same price. If you will be using it for movies, be prepared for washed out colors, thanks to a low 45 percent sRGB color gamut, which is below the 64 percent cover you’d get with the Lenovo 120S, with the HP Stream covering a bright 82 percent. Above the screen is a 640-by-480 camera, which is almost vestigial with color and almost colorless visuals.
Surprisingly, this laptop gets a fairly comfortable keyboard with 1.7mm key travel that doesn’t require much effort to press the keys. That is impressive, but the keys are cut from cheap plastic and the small body doesn’t leave enough room to rest both hands. The touchpad measures 4.1 by 2.4 inches and adapts well with Windows 10 S gestures, that come pre-installed with the system.
From the onset, I have made it clear that this is a basic laptop targeted for college or basic home tasks. Powering it is a dual-core Intel Celeron N4000 processor with a base speed of 1.1GHz, but can hit 2.3GHz on both cores. This is alongside 2GB RAM and 32GB eMMC flash memory and Intel HD 500 graphics that are only sufficient for simple MS Office and web applications such as mail and music streaming. The 32GB flash drive may not offer tons of storage, but will get you going for basic tasks and can always be supplemented by an external hard drive.
Battery life is painfully short, with the 2-cell battery offering around 5 hours 23 minutes, which is not enough to last a whole day at school. If you opt to replace the pre-installed Windows S with Windows 10 Home, you might get away with a few more hours. Either way, it is below the category average of 7 hours 18 minutes; of which the Lenovo IdeaPad 120S (8:40) and HP Stream (7:09) easily achieve.
The Asus VivoBook E203MA-TBCL232A is a budget laptop, built into a stylish aesthetic, good build quality and nothing else to make it stand out from the crowd. Its 11-inch display both dull and dim, battery life painfully short and the webcam doesn’t impress at all. The only thing going for it is a fairly comfortable keyboard and of course the price. If you need something more practical at this price, something like the Samsung Chromebook 3 will off better value, or if Windows is a must have, the 11-inch Lenovo Ideapad 120S is an excellent choice. It rings better performance, has a battery that lasts almost 2 hours more and a stylish design too. It remains our Editors’ Choice.