When nVidia launched its 3D Vision glasses, I was thrilled with the experience, just like U2 3D after seeing it with Dolby 3D technology. However, nVidia’s 3D glasses come with several problems that prevented the technology to really take off. First and foremost, the requirement for 120Hz refresh rate reduced the number of available displays at launch to one – Samsung’s 22" display with a resolution of 1680×1050 pixels. Personally, this was a no go as I’ve used 1920×1200 and 2560×1600 resolutions since 2005-2007.
Viewsonic joined the frame with their 22" display and again, failed to solve the essential problem of low resolution. It didn’t help that not a single 100Hz plasma or LCD didn’t support the goggles due to lack of dual-HDMI input [120Hz technology requires dual-link DVI even for 1680×1050 – DisplayPort has no such limitations]. Only choices were Mitsubishi backside projection DLP TV, Sanyo 120Hz projector or afore mentioned Samsung/Viewsonic 22" displays.
All that is set to change in a few weeks. ASUS is coming to market with the G51J-SZ028V, a limited edition notebook from the Republic of Gamers series. The G51J is offering a "true" stereo 3D gaming experience, since it comes bundled with a pair of 3D Vision glasses [the $199 ones, not the "3D Vision Discovery" paper goggles].
Othr than the new notebook does not differ from other gaming laptops from ASUS line. In fact, it looks identical to other G51 notebooks we encoutered over the years, sans the changed artwork on the lid. Illuminated keyboard is one of better ones, though.
Spec wise, the gaming laptop boasts a 1.6 GHz Core i7 720QM processor [45nm Lynnfield], 4GB of DDR3 RAM, a 640GB hard drive [G51J can fit two HDDs], a GeForce GTX 260M 1GB graphics card [rebranded 9800GTX+], and a Blu-ray drive as a standard feature. Given the fact that this is top-of-the-line Republic of Gamers notebook, we’re not surprised seeing beefed up specs, even though we do consider Blu-ray to be quite useless $199-299 price boaster. Other than that, G51J also comes with an ExpressCard slot [full-sized one], an 8-in-1 card reader [unfortunately, no Compact Flash reader for folk with professional D-SLR cameras], eSATA and HDMI ports, Gigabit Ethernet, WiFi and Bluetooth. Sadly, no DisplayPort and for some stupid reason, we still see analog display connector [D-SUB15 – pictured]… while we do understand it is a requirement on business notebooks, it is quite stupid that if you want to have a notebook with a DVI connector, you’re being pushed to buy a MacBook Pro. We are quite disappointed with this, since majority of gamers that would extend the desktop space of this notebook use a DVI-enabled monitor – HDMI displays are still a rarity.
The display itself is a 15.4" LED-backlit LCD with 120Hz refresh,sporting a resolution of 1920×1080 pixels. We hope that this is the beginning of 120Hz FullHD displays, since that is the only way for 3D Vision to gain traction on the market. Top of the screen is occupied by a two megapixel camera and a microphone. The odd part is that allegedly, 3D Vision is only supported in 1280x720Hz, which doesn’t make sense.
Being a gaming notebook, we like that the G51J comes with Altec Lansing speakers, which are sort of a trademark for RoG line-up. The fact that somebody stepped up to the plate and offered speakers that rival Toshiba’s Harman Kardon setup makes us quite happy – other gaming notebooks don’t hold up in the speaker segment, especially ones that are based of Clevo chassis. Dimensions are almost identical to other gaming laptops from ASUS’s Republic of Gamers line – 395 x 277 x 44 mm [don’t expect ultra-thin notebook with components such as these], weighing in 3.5kg [7.7 pounds]. The power supply is not an expected huge brick, but a rather compact adapter. We got used to reading "this gaming notebook weighs 3-5 kilograms, but what’s that for power you receive", but the manufacturer would usually omit the fact that power brick adds additional 1.5-2 kilograms [150W ones by already mentioned Clevo, for instance].
The Asus G51J-SZ028V will run Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit and is expected to become available in late November, in time for holiday shopping season. We have confirmed availability in both North America and in Europe, but we weren’t able to get the retail price at press time.
Update October 19th, 2009 14:03 GTM – There seems to be confusion about the screen, since the 3D Vision mode works only in 1280×720 resolution. The specifications in release state the following: "15.6" HD (1366×768)/Full HD (1920×1080) LED backlight 120Hz". Not exactly a whole lot to go on, so we’re waiting for our contacts at ASUS to wake up and provide us with a clear spec.