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.”
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 videoconferences, 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.