I’m not really sure what to expect in laptop speakers, but these ones generally lack in bass. It also has a sort of hollowness as though some frequencies aren’t coming through as much as they should. They’re not horrible by all means; you can pump them pretty loud, but a mini subwoofer would go a long way to help out the overall sound quality. I wasn’t expecting any miracles anyways. There’s always the headphone jack if you really want to have better sound. On the plus side, there’s the Intel HD Audio for you people with the really good headphones…
UPDATE [Jan. 6, 2006]: This is one slightly disappointing thing I’ve been noticing. I’m betting it’s due to inadequate shielding of the sound circuitry, but compared to my desktops, there is a significantly higher level of noise. There’s a definite change in the noise levels when the speakers but not playing anything and turning the speakers off altogether. I’ve tried this on several sets of speakers and headphones with all of them exhibiting the same problem.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The laptop comes with a Synaptics touchpad that I’ve actually somewhat mastered now. I’ve been using the touchpad exclusively over the past 4 days and I haven’t had any problems with it aside from the Firefox scrolling issue that many have had. I’m not too worried about it as I’ll soon pick up a nice wireless mouse and throw that in my laptop bag. But for those who use touchpads, this one is pretty solid. The touchpad buttons give a resounding click, perhaps a little on the loud side. There’s no looseness whatsoever.
Now the keyboard. I’ve typed this whole review on the laptop so I’ve essentially gotten used to the keyboard now. As it seems to be on many laptops, the left ctrl key is no longer at the very left; instead the Fn key resides in that position. It’s been quite a few times that I’ve had Firefox going and I press Ctrl+T to open a new tab and nothing happens. Then I remember I’m pressing Fn instead of Ctrl. So there is some getting to used to it, but generally it’s not too bad. I don’t actually know how to type properly; I still use the hunt and peck method (although chatting in UT2003/2004 has trained me to be a pretty good hunt and pecker; I don’t even need look anymore). It’s probably easier for me to relearn my typing as I look once in a while anyways. For you secretary-like typists, well try not to get in a hissy fit when the Delete key isn’t where you normally find it.
The build of the keyboard is about average with some flex towards the F12 and Pause/Break keys. I don’t really use those keys much anyways so it’s not too worrisome. There is a slight bit of rattle in the keys though. It’s like if you don’t press the key directly in its center, it shifts a little. They just generally don’t feel as stable as they could.
UPDATE [Sept. 18, 2005]: I’ve found that after resting my palms on the palmrests for 3 months, there is some color fading. There’s an area on the left palmrest that has now become darker than the rest of the chassis. This is actually a pretty common problem with many laptops as at university I’ve seen it on many other high-use laptops. It makes it look kinda weird, but doesn’t affect performance. Just a note if you’re really worried about aesthetics.