And what corners have been cut to get there?
If you told me a couple of years ago that I could buy a laptop for around Rs 50,000 with a professional-grade 600 nits OLED screen, I’d have laughed you out of the room. But that once absurd proposition is a reality in 2022 thanks to companies like Asus, which have been making a concerted push to put good quality OLED panels in laptops up and down the price range.
One such laptop is the Asus Vivobook 15 OLED that I have with me for review.
The design is unremarkable.
I’ve been using the Asus Vivobook 15 OLED for a few weeks now and there have been points of time when I have had to just pause whatever I’m doing and just take a moment to marvel at the screen. The rest of the device is no slouch either and my time with this machine has been a unique and interesting one.
Read on to find out the details.
You can configure the Asus Vivobook 15 OLED in a couple of different ways. You can pick between a Core i3-1215U and a Core i5-1235U chipset, and between 8 GB or 16 GB of RAM.
The model I have is the base version with the i3 processor and 8 GB of RAM and this sells for Rs 50,990. The top spec variant goes for Rs 68,990. They all feature the headline item, which is the 15.6” 1080p OLED screen that boasts a Delta E <2 (which means the colour accuracy is excellent) and 600 nits of brightness (very high for this price class, and beats many more expensive models). There’s also a 14” version of this laptop with slightly better specs and similar pricing.
But the screen is simply stunning
It’s plastic. There’s no getting around the fact that when you have to squeeze in a dazzling pro-grade OLED screen into your bill of materials, you are going to have to make a few compromises to keep the price down. This means the Asus Vivobook 15 OLED is all plastic and looks quite unremarkable. So, if you’re the sort that’s spoiled by the aluminium chassis popping up in this price segment, you might be disappointed.
But this is not to suggest the laptop feels cheap. It feels very solidly put together and there is next to no flex in the chassis. Asus claims the Vivobook 15 OLED is built to MIL STD 810H standards, so that’s some reassurance with regard to durability. The plastic quality is good and it feels nice to the touch, although the surfaces are fingerprint magnets and look scuffed up very quickly.
The 16:9 aspect ratio feels a bit dated, but it’s great for watching video.
The Asus Vivobook 15 OLED weighs in at 1.7 kg, which is par for the course for 15.6” laptops. It doesn’t feel excessively heavy for its size. The screen is truly the star when it comes to this machine. Apart from its pro-grade colour accuracy and high brightness, it’s also worth mentioning that it covers 100 percent of the DCI-P3 colour gamut. Every superlative is justified because this is a truly top-class screen. The colours are accurate and vivid, the contrast is punchy, the blacks are inky, and the brightness is impressive.
This screen would not be out of place in a laptop that costs double the price. The 16:9 aspect ratio feels a bit dated at this point in time, and sub-optimal for working on documents compared to the taller screens that are more common these days. But on the plus side, it’s big and immersive for watching videos.
The speakers are just about serviceable but don't quite rise to the level of good. You can get by with them in a pinch if you want to watch a quick video or listen to a voice note. But if you want to truly indulge this gorgeous screen and watch some Netflix, you’re going to have to plug in your headphones.
The backlit keyboard is good for the price class. There’s adequate key travel and I found my typing speed to be fast. There are more luxurious keyboards to be had, but probably not very many at this price point. The touchpad (also plastic) works well, and the fingerprint sensor located in a corner of the touchpad is quick and accurate.
The connectivity is decent but specced for a budget experience. There are three USB-A ports (two of which are USB 3.2), one USB-C (but no Thunderbolt and you can’t use it for power), one HDMI and one barrel type connector for the power adapter, yet another budget part-choice.
But budget specs aren’t always a losing proposition. This laptop features both upgradeable storage and expandable memory, something that pricier laptops rarely sport these days. This means that you can spec up the RAM to 16 GB and swap out the SSD if you need more space, making the Asus Vivobook 15 OLED somewhat future proof.
But it’s good quality plastic, and well built.
Again, it’s the screen that steals the show. The performance is, expectedly, quick and smooth. The 12th gen Intel Core i3-1215U handily outperforms the 11th gen Core i5-1135G7, which was already a very capable chipset. Therefore, the Asus Vivobook 15 OLED can handle most everyday tasks thrown at it without breaking a sweat.
Even while firing up Lightroom and Photoshop, the tools that I am most familiar with, the performance was quick and responsive. This is not a many-core beast, so it trails the more powerful machines when it comes to export and import times. But for photographers on a budget, this will be a more than adequate solution, especially considering how good the screen is.
Headphone jack, USB-C, two USB-As, HDMI and a barrel connector.
The integrated GPU is the somewhat anaemic Intel UHD graphics. So, when it comes to AI-heavy tasks, the Asus Vivobook 15 OLED doesn’t set any speed records (but it still felt about as snappy as my 2018 Mac Mini, for what it’s worth). You also won’t be doing much gaming or video editing on this, but at this price, I am sure you’re not expecting to.
Thermal management is very good, with the chassis remaining cool even under heavy load, no doubt helped by the fact that it is made of plastic. Consecutive runs of demanding benchmark tests produced consistent results, indicating that there isn’t much throttling going on either.
Battery life is par for the course, clocking around five hours on average. Heavy workloads and full brightness will burn through the battery in closer to three hours. The supplied 65W adapter charges up the Asus Vivobook 15 OLED reasonably fast.
The 720p webcam is just about okay, but at this price I suppose I can’t complain too much. I do like the physical privacy shutter that has been provided.
Should I buy it?
There are several compelling laptops at the Rs 50,000 price point, and whether the Asus Vivobook 15 OLED is the one for you will depend on your priorities, but what I can state with confidence is that it delivers a massive amount of value for the price, not least because you get a stellar, professional-grade display.
The other almost equally impressive aspect of the Asus Vivobook 15 OLED is that for putting in such a great screen, the corners Asus has cut to hit the price point are overall quite minor – plastic build, so-so speakers, and no USB-C charging. None of these are deal breakers at this price.
Just look at that screen!
Helped along by the fact that the CPU is capable, this may even be a good choice for a photographer on a budget. The fact that the RAM and storage are upgradeable makes this an even more attractive proposition from the perspective of long-term use.
For anyone who uses their laptop to stream video, there is unlikely to be a better option in this price range. The speakers may be middling, but you’re going to use your headphones for watching Netflix anyway.
People who want to do gaming, or video editing, or anything else that requires moderate to heavy GPU loads should probably give this machine a miss, but for everyone else, the Asus Vivobook 15 OLED is at the very least worth considering.
This Asus Vivobook 15 OLED was sent to the reviewer as a loaner unit for review purposes. The unit will be returned on completion of the review. Asus has been given no advance information about the content of this review and exercises no copy approval.
Contact the author on Twitter @vinayaravind.
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