ASUS VivoBook L403 review: A stylish laptop for students with terrific battery life
Cheap laptops don't have to look like cheap laptops, and this ASUS VivoBook is packed with style at a really affordable price.
When it comes to buying a laptop for the kids to do school work on or to take on your next step to university, it's not always necessary to spend a small fortune to get a good laptop.
Equally, it's no longer the case that cheap laptops look like cheap laptops, and performance is certainly better than the old days of horrendous netbooks.
The VivoBook L403 from ASUS UK isn't without fault, but it's a good laptop for the younger ones in your life. For the things that matter when buying for kids or students, this ticks the right boxes.
Starts at £299.99 (opens in new tab)Bottom Line: It isn't going to win any performance contests, but this is a stylish looking laptop perfect for British kids to do their school work. The screen is a little lackluster, but it's at least Full HD, and the build quality is pretty solid. For the price, it's hard to complain too much.
Pros:Premium style with a budget priceSupports USB-CImpressive battery lifeOne year of Office 365 included
Cons:Display won't knock your socks offNot much internal storage availableVGA webcam is rough
What you'll love about the ASUS VivoBook L403
First off you'll love how it looks. Despite being entirely plastic throughout, the L403 has a brushed metal finish on both the lid and around the keyboard and trackpad. Simply put, it looks like more than a £300 laptop, something ASUS is very good at.
|Form factor||Traditional notebook.|
|Processor||Intel Pentium N4200.|
|Battery||Up to 14 hours.|
|Size||18 mm x 339 mm x 235 mm.|
The Pentium processor inside doesn't sound like a lot, and it isn't, but one thing it does allow for is excellent battery life. ASUS claims up to 14 hours, and in real-world use, that's translated to between 10 and 11 hours in our use. Either way, it's excellent.
What's equally excellent is the generosity when it comes to ports. Not only do you get USB 3.0, but also USB-C, full-sized HDMI, and a proper SD card slot. No dongle life required here. All of this while maintaining a slim profile.
It may be slim, and it may be plastic, but it's also very tough, which is important if you're buying to throw in a school bag. There's almost no screen flex, very little depression beneath the keyboard and overall feels very solidly built. The keyboard is pretty good, as is often the case with ASUS. Key travel is pretty good, keys are well spaced, and the trackpad, while not precision, is excellent for a laptop at this price.
The icing on the cake, particularly if this is to be used for school work, is a free one-year subscription to Office 365 which is being thrown in for good measure.
What you'll loathe about the ASUS VivoBook L403
It's hard to say you'll loathe anything about the VivoBook L403, especially when you put into the context of costing just £300. There are things that aren't so impressive though.
For one, the display. While it's 1080p in resolution, the colors are far from the greatest you'll find, even on a cheap laptop. As a TN panel, viewing angles are pretty rough, and anything away from dead straight-on viewing, things start to look pretty shabby pretty quickly.
Overall performance is a little sluggish at times, too. This will depend on what you want to use it for, but if you start to push it with demanding operations, you'll quickly hit the wall.
The most disappointing aspects, really, are the lack of internal storage and the webcam. At only VGA resolution, even a quick Skype call is going to look really bad with this webcam. And when it comes to storage, 64GB isn't 64GB. You get 37GB out of the box with Windows and the pre-installed apps only on there, and it won't take long to fill up.
The bottom line on the ASUS VivoBook L403
Compromises have to be made when getting a super-affordable laptop, and you'll find those with the VivoBook L403. It's a little sluggish, there's not much internal storage, the display is underwhelming, and the VGA webcam is horrible.
But, none of those, despite being disappointments, are dealbreakers at £300. This is a great looking and well-built laptop with a nice keyboard, superb battery life, a big display and plenty of ports to connect things to. When it comes to buying a cheap laptop, these features easily outweigh the negatives.
It's also a proper 64-bit version of Windows 10 Home, so not limited to the Microsoft Store and you get a one-year subscription to Office 365 thrown into the bargain. For students, in particular, this is a great package. It's tough enough to withstand the rigors of frequent trips to school while looking sleek and stylish in the classroom.
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Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine
I used the x205ta as a daily driver until recently and for a sub £150 brand new netbook it was fantastic, 10hr+ battery life and ideal for browsing etc on the move. Just its 2gb of ram handicapped it recently swapped it for a dell Inspiron I forget the exact model off the top of my head but I think I'll swap that for one of these!
The keyboard may be pretty good, but what happened to that F3 key? l403-3.jpg