Asus Lamborghini: $4,000 Windows Vista Laptop from 2007

Asus Lamborghini: $4,000 Windows Vista Laptop from 2007

After Acer began selling Ferrari laptops in the mid 2000s, it wasn’t long before competing companies followed suit with their own branded computers! This is one of them, the Asus Lamborghini VX2S from 2007. Specifically the Ultimate Bundle, which cost roughly $4,000 on launch!

[upbeat jazz plays] [computer buzzes, beeps]
Greetings, and today on LGR I’ve got something sitting in my driveway I never thought I’d
have. A sleek, shiny Lamborghini from the mid-2000s!
Wait why’s there a laptop out here, lemme get this inside.
Yeah that’s better. This lovely beast we have here is
an Asus Lamborghini VX2, a specially-branded Windows Vista laptop from 2007. It sold for
$2,699 on launch for the base model, with certain upgrades and bundles boosting that
to nearly $4,000 for a fully specced-out VX2S like the one we have here. Not quite Italian
exotic car money but by no means a cheap laptop, then or now. Compared to similarly-specced
machines of its day, like the Dell XPS M1330 as one example, the Lamborghini VX2 cost 5
to $700 more for roughly the same capabilities. No doubt some of that was due to its raging
bull branding, but surely there was more to it, right? Right indeed, this thing is packed
with premium materials, fancy features, and alluring extras that made the asking price
slightly more understandable, all added up. Things like a lacquer-coated lid painted in
either gloss Midas yellow or carbon-finished in Noctis Black. A magnesium alloy frame and
trim tucked into the base of the computer. Real leather blanketing the palm rest and
around the keyboard, with golden thread stitched into the edges. Plus just about every port,
interface, plug, adapter, and peripheral you could want in a mid-2000s laptop. Either built
into the system or included in the box, making it a multimedia, productivity, and entertainment
powerhouse. It was also one of the very first laptops to come with Windows Vista Ultimate
installed from the factory. But let’s be real, the main reason this existed was the
fact that Asus and Lamborghini wanted some of the exotic car laptop market for themselves.
After Acer’s successful Ferrari laptops dropping in 2004, something I’ve covered
before here on LGR, the precedent was set and ASUSTeK lapped up the chance to sell their
own fast car computers. Long-standing Ferrari rival Lamborghini was a clear choice, a partnership
that began with the VX1 model in 2006. It was praised for its build materials and overall
look, but criticized for its 4:3 display, lackluster GPU, odd port placement, and hefty
price. All things Asus addressed in the follow-up: the VX2, unveiled in January 2007 right alongside
Lamborghini’s new upgraded Gallardo, the Superleggera. The VX2 was an improvement in
every way, boasting an Intel Core 2 Duo T7500 CPU up from the VX1’s 7400, Nvidia 8600M
GT graphics up from the GeForce Go 7700, and a 200 gigabyte hard drive up from the previous
160. Reviewers praised the new model overall, with only minor complaints about the OS and
multimedia capabilities. For example, PC Magazine found the VX2’s dual layer DVD+RW drive
disappointing in such a high-end system, saying it was really too bad it didn’t have an
HD-DVD drive. [chuckles] Ah the wishes of 2007. Finally, it wasn’t long before the
swansong of the VX2 line arrived: the VX2S, of which we have this phenomenal example here,
packing even more improvements on top of the VX2. In particular, this VX2S is the creamiest
of the creamy crop. The Ultimate Bundle, the one that cost four grand on its release in
‘07. We’ll get to what this added as we explore the system, but the lavish luxurious
presentation remains the same no matter which model you chose. Starting with this textured
black box the computer shipped in, opening up to reveal a fitted insert embracing the
shape of the VX2S. Which is itself tucked away inside a soft velvety drawstring bag.
Lifting the machine outta there and onto a desk makes it apparent that this is more of
a desktop replacement than a laptop for your lap, weighing in at 3.3 kilograms, or just
over 7 pounds. Still, hefty as it is, the Lambo is one looker of a laptop, with this
one featuring a carbon fiber lid, a premium upgrade over the bright yellow paint option.
And of course that authentic-ally licensed Lamborghini logo placed right smack in the
middle there, providing eye-catching flair to anyone on that side of the screen. Opening
it up reveals the keyboard and trackpad bordered in stitched leather, and the wrist rest area
being protected by a plastic cover and a distracting mishmash of badges. At least they didn’t
adhere them directly to the leather, and the cover peels off with little effort and maximum
satisfaction. [plasticky peeling sounds] Yeah that’s better. The only logo you see anymore
is that Automobili Lamborghini insignia debossed into the metallic strip just below the arrow
keys. It’s quite the appealing look if you ask me, straddling the line between classily
understated, and gaudily pretentious. Perhaps not as wild as you’d imagine when you hear
the words “Lamborghini laptop,” the later VX7 model looks far siller in a fitting way.
But the VX2S, I dunno, it’s not bad!
[Alfred: “The Lamborghini then? Much more subtle.”]
-Also included was this stylish leather carrying case, something the previous owner of my machine
kept for themselves I suppose. Irksome. Inside the next box is an assortment of accessories,
software, and peripherals. Like the power supply, video cables, interface adapters,
various bits of paperwork and recovery discs. As well as a custom Lamborghini wireless mouse,
encased in its own little black bag. It’s a smaller 3-button optical mouse that connects
via Bluetooth using two AA batteries. The mouse buttons are fine with a nice click to
them but the wheel feels weird, lacking a tactile click, and just kinda mushing down
with a disconcertingly smooth scroller. Not a fan, but at least it has a nifty metal flake
paint job I guess. Next up is the VX Power Station, included as part of the Ultimate
package. It’s your standard docking station/port replicator done up with a bit of automotive
flair. It adds a pile of useful ports, including more audio and USB, full-sized serial and
parallel, DVI video out, a PS/2 port, ethernet and so on. It also makes the machine look
even more over-the-top with those metal wings jutting out from either side of the station.
However it’s hooked up though, this doozy of a desktop replacement is packed with darn
near every desirable option for 2007. Starting with a Motorola SM56 modem next to the power
connector, FireWire and USB 2.0 ports left of the main exhaust fan, microphone in and
headphone/SPDIF digital audio out jacks. An eSATA connection that doubles as another USB
port, an 8-in-1 card reader with an SD card blank insert. And an ExpressCard interface,
the short-lived replacement for PC Card PCMCIA, accepting handy little expansion boards. Not
much along the front and back, with an IR blaster on front for infrared applications
and only a Kensington lock around the rear. Most of this area is taken up by the battery,
a 4800 milliamp hour deal capable of about 2½ hours of life, give or take half an hour
depending on how much time you’re wasting on Newgrounds. The left side is more exciting,
featuring an RJ45 jack for 1 gig ethernet, S-video output, 15-pin VGA, two more USB 2.0
ports, HDMI out. And an optical drive PC Mag would be proud of: a Toshiba HD-DVD drive!
This was included as part of the uber-expensive Ultimate Package, also functioning as your
standard LightScribe DVD burner. But yeah, I never realized laptops even had HD-DVD as
an option, much less owned one till now. In fact this is my first time experiencing the
format, since I simply ignored the Blu-Ray/HD-DVD format war and waited till someone lost before
choosing a side back then. The drive is also hot-swappable, allowing use of different optical
drives, hard drives, or even a second battery. And then with the laptop unfolded we come
to that 15.4” 16:10 display. It’s rather glossy for my taste but the colors look lovely
and black levels are solid. And it even came with a “Zero Bright Dot” guarantee from
the manufacturer. Basically your screen shouldn’t have any white or black pixels stuck on the
screen, and if you did they’d replace it, barring a few exceptions. Then above the LCD
is this 1.3 megapixel webcam, with 240-degree swiveling action allowing you to tilt up,
down, or even all the way around to the back.
There’s also a little microphone right beside the webcam as you would expect, which is what
you’re listening to now. And yeah this is the quality 640×480 at some absurd frame rate.
[lo-fi chuckle] And we’ve also got built-in filters, so if we want the sepia filter we’ve
got that. We’ve got the Sin City filter, negative, naked person filter. And there’s also frames.
Oh my goodness, happy halloween, hearts and things. Yeah, this is very 2007 and it’s adorable.
-Then right below is the 86-key keyboard, flanked by speakers left and right, with a pretty
standard layout and set of key switches. Nothing to write home about, it’s a typical laptop
keyboard of its day with decent key travel and relatively light actuation. The top row
of shortcut keys are useful, with power on the right, buttons for activating things like
the Bluetooth 2.0 transceiver and draft 802.11n Wi-Fi. Disabling the trackpad, opening media
players, switching performance modes and display profiles. With those last two optimizing power
consumption and adjusting LCD color temperature and contrast, respectively. Fun. What’s
not fun at all are the trackpad buttons, which have a decent click but only allow you to
press them if you tap the correct side of the button. Which, for whatever reason, is
the opposite side that I naturally wanna use. However, that bit in the middle? Yeah that’s
a fingerprint reader for biometric log-ins. A nice touch for 2007 especially, so you can
finger your Lamborghini instead of entering a password anytime you take it for a spin.
Another nice addition is found underneath, with this cute little fan grille replicating
an alloy wheel from Lamborghini. Although it’s for the base model Gallardo, not the
Superleggera that the VX2 launched alongside, but hey they tried. And well, it’s not really
a fan grille either, it’s more of a fan cover. The opening is blocked underneath,
where it plops down on top of the CPU fan and the exhaust goes out the side. And yeah,
under there lies the 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, with this Ultimate package actually
packing an upgraded 2.4GHz T7700. Then down below that is this, an NGIVG1000 GPU Board,
that’s a mouthful… packing an Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT graphics card. Yeah I don’t actually
know what upgrade options may be available, but this is just neat, I haven’t had this
on very many laptops. The 8600 does share memory with the system though, claiming either
512 megs or 1 gig. How much depends on the total RAM installed, with 2 gigabytes of 667MHz
DDR2 RAM on the base model. And a maximum 4 gigs supported, as came installed in the
Ultimate package here. Finally, there’s the 200 gig 7200RPM hard drive – or there
would be if it was still installed. This was pilfered by the previous owner, along with
that awesome leather case I’m definitely not bitter about. So I replaced it with a
cheap 240 gig drive and reinstalled everything factory fresh. Super easy thanks to recovery
discs that don’t rely on hard disk restore partitions, thank goodness. And with that,
the Lambo is ready to lay down some rubber, and hit the road at full speed with Windows Vista.
[laptop powers on, fans whir to life]
[engine revving sounds]
And yeah, it plays engine revving noises on power-up, alongside the Lamborghini logo in
lieu of the usual BIOS screen. Delightfully charming. To a point anyway, as it then carries
on loading Windows Vista Ultimate Edition. [Windows Vista startup sound plays]
Although it’s only 32-bit, oddly enough,
dismissing the fact that its T7700 CPU happily supports 64-bit operating systems.
And yeah, nothing too special here in terms of presentation. No supercar startup noises
or bespoke Lamborghini Windows theme. Just a small handful of VX2-related wallpapers
and that’s about it. Missed opportunities. Asus did include plenty of bloat though, yay.
Many of the programs are pure annoyance, like antivirus trials and slow-loading updater
programs and generic OEM crap. But there are a number of decently useful applications too.
Asus Splendid Video is an interface for switching display profiles, doing the same as pressing
the related button on the keyboard. Instant Fun is your standard multimedia frontend,
with shortcuts to common programs similar to Microsoft’s Windows Media Center. LifeFrame
is the app for controlling the aforementioned webcam, with its silly filters and frames
and things. Power For Phone is a simple phone dialer program, using either the built-in
modem or Skype to call up phone numbers. Nero Express 7 Essentials is your cut-down version
of Nero for handling reading and writing of optical media. Including LightScribe, which
the drive supports providing you have the appropriate discs. And finally a special version
of InterVideo WinDVD, for playing DVDs as well as those fancy high definition discs.
Which hey, still look great! The speakers are a bit flimsy-sounding unfortunately, but
that glossy screen still looks quite good here 15 years later.
[excessive Zack Snyder noises]
All right, enough of the preinstalled fluff, let’s play some games! In the pursuit of
relatively similar comparisons, each game will be running at 1280×720 resolution, or
as close to it as each title allows. Starting with Unreal Tournament 2004 running on maximum
settings. Which yeah, no surprise that it does phenomenally well here. Even maxed out,
UT2K4 is a cinch for this combination of processor and GPU, and barely revs up the cooling fans
while playing. It rarely dips below 60FPS, as indicated by the Fraps numbers in the top-left
corner. And for the most part it stays well over a hundred, smooth as a freshly-waxed
Italian exotic. Next up is the latest Elder Scrolls entry when this computer came out:
Oblivion, running here at 720p on the default graphics settings. And really this ain’t
bad at all for an ‘07 laptop, this was a pretty hefty game to run even on a well-specced
desktop then. Here we get an average framerate in the low 30s, dipping lower when more characters
are on-screen or when you venture out into a more open area with lots of grass and greater
draw distance. Still nothing unplayable about this, and I would’ve been floored to see
The Elder Scrolls IV running this well on a laptop back then. Next I wanted to try a racing
game, and I figured why not try Midnight Club II for something a bit different than my usual
Need For Speed choices. And well, this one’s a little strange. Like, it runs great maxed
out, no problem. But this is one of those games where there’s a 30FPS cap on the physics,
while the framerate is supposed to be uncapped. Yet even with Vsync off, I’m only getting
a max of 54 frames per second. Weird but whatever. Even with the arbitrarily locked frame rate
and loose physics it’s still quite playable, despite some handling wonkiness due to the
game logic being tied to performance. Moving on then to one of my favorites of the mid-2000s:
FEAR. Running here on maximum settings at 1280×960, since this unpatched version doesn’t
natively support widescreen. Even with those additional pixels, performance is quite respectable
on this built-in benchmark. Averaging a framerate in the low 30s, dipping into the upper teens
when things are at their worst and going much higher during sections between action. So
overall, a solid set of numbers for what was still a rather graphically-intense game at
the time, I’d have been quite happy to play on a laptop at this speed and fidelity. So,
how about some real-time strategy? For that I’m going with another of my favorites:
Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle-Earth 2. This was about a year old when the VX2
came out, and I recall barely being able to squeeze out a decent framerate when I played
it soon after launch. But yeah, the Lambo just coasts along nicely here, running at
1280×960 on High settings. This does have a 30FPS cap on the framerate, which I entirely
forgot about till now. But it reaches that rather effortlessly through most of the game.
Dropping down to the mid-to-low 20s when zoomed in to an area full of units enduring heavy
combat. Still way better than what I experienced on any laptop back then, this is good stuff.
Finally, the question of “can it run Crysis” looms large, so let’s give the Crysis benchmark
a shot. And yep, it certainly runs! Even cranked up to medium settings, ooh. Unsurprisingly
the frame rate drops into the mid-to-low teens when action ramps up, but the majority of
the game is in the twenties and is overall playable for 2007 standards. Would’ve boggled
my brain to see Crysis run this well on a laptop then. Though it’s not without effort,
really being pushed to the redline with that exhaust working overtime. A machine that’s
just as fast as it is hot and loud? Ferruccio Lamborghini would approve.
[loud hot fan noise]
And that is all for the Asus VX2S! A top-notch 2007 desktop replacement with aesthetics that
demand attention and computing power to back it up. It really does sit on the fence between
“beautiful” and “ostentatious” in terms of design, but considering the Lamborghini
namesake I’m kinda surprised it’s as subtle as it is. Relatively speaking. The thing still
comes off as a luxury accessory to the casual viewer, like a high fashion handbag or a big
ol’ piece of jewelry. An unnecessary attention grabber no doubt. But the sheer performance
and functionality arguably makes up for it, this was such a solid portable computer in
its day. As you’d hope with its original 2½ to $4,000 price tag, but still. If you
could live with its gussied-up look and had the cash to spare, it would’ve been hard
to go wrong with the VX2S at the time. And due to the cash-grab product tie-in nature
of the thing, it’s still a fun collectible even now,
one that I hope you enjoyed checking out with me.
[jazz intensifies]
And if you enjoyed this laptop retrospective then feel free to peruse some of my previous
videos on similar computers of the past. Or stick around for new stuff, always in the
works here on LGR. And as usual, thank you for watching!

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Nancy Pelosi lands in Taiwan despite China warning US will ‘pay the price’ – BBC News

 

Nancy Pelosi lands in Taiwan despite China warning US will ‘pay the price’ – BBC News
US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi has become the most senior US politician to visit Taiwan in 25 years, despite China warning that Washington would “pay the price” if she visited the island.

Beijing warned it would respond to any potential visit from Pelosi, who has not been backed by the White House to visit Taiwan.

Taiwan is a self-ruled island, but claimed by China, which sees it as a breakaway province.

 

 

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