The 11in VivoBook S200E certainly doesn't look like a budget laptop – in fact its brushed metal finish and slim, lightweight design could give Apple's far more expensive MacBook Air a run for its money.
Admittedly, the S200E is slightly heavier than the 11-inch version of the MacBook Air, weighing 1.45Kg to its rival's 1.1Kg. Even so, it's still an extremely light and portable laptop, and with a thickness of just 22mm you can slip it into a backpack or shoulder-bag and barely notice the weight when you carry it around with you.
It's quite solidly constructed too, with good support for the screen panel and a sturdy keyboard that feels comfortable when typing – although the relatively small keys might be a little tricky for rugby players with chunky digits.
The S200E even manages to include a touch-sensitive screen for Windows 8, which is certainly good value for a laptop costing less than £500. The screen does have its flaws, though. It's not spectacularly bright, and while the horizontal viewing angle is quite reasonable we found the vertical viewing angle more limited – something that wasn't helped by the glare on the highly reflective screen coating – and it was often necessary to tilt the screen to just the right angle in order to improve visibility.
That's only a minor complaint though, and worth putting up with in order to benefit from the VivoBook's compact, lightweight design.
Asus VivoBook S200E: components and performance
The original S200 that we reviewed earlier this year cost about £350 with a Pentium processor, but this current model includes an Ivy Bridge i3 running at a respectable 1.8GHz along with 4GB of memory and 500GB hard drive. You can't buy it direct from Asus, but online prices are typically around the £430 mark.
Performance is comparable to that of other low-cost laptops using the same processor, with a score of 2100 when running PCMark 7. That should be perfectly adequate for web browsing or running Microsoft Office, although it will struggle with more heavy-duty tasks such as video-editing or 3D gaming.
Battery life has improved slightly since the last version, managing just over four hours (255 mins) when streaming video via the built-in wifi. You can probably eke that out to over five hours for lighter work, giving you the best part of a day's work when you're out and about. See also: best budget laptop.