Monday, May 11, 2009
I bought this Asus Pro57Vr notebook (scroll and click "Specifications") about 10 days ago; it's reported as M51VR on Ubuntu.
It's very nice, for its price. Plus, I've grown fond of Asus over the past years, due to the great quality/price balance. After I've stuffed my desktop system with a lot of Asus components, I thought I'd buy a laptop from them as well.
Operating system and drivers
I was glad to find it at a local distributor with no operating system installed whatsoever.
Asus recommend Vista for it and of course it forces this upon customers -- the CD with the drivers is for Vista (32b) only. Still, you can download the Windows (XP, 2000 etc.) drivers from their website.
I set it up as a dual boot between Windows 7 RC (which I was curious to try) and Ubuntu 9.04.
I have to mention the fact that on Windows 7 RC I didn't need to install additional drivers - everything was handled by Windows *somehow* and when there were a few unrecognized devices left in "Device Manager", just as I began to wonder how to handle them, the operating system somehow automatically downloaded and installed them. Very nice.
Things that didn't go as expected
Two annoying things here:
1. The ambient light sensor -- it's designed so stupidly -- it's probably meant for outdoors situations (when you have more direct sunlight, the display will be bad so you'd need more brightness and, respectively, when it's not too sunny you can see the screen quite well so you don't need so much brightness).
However, for indoor use, this ambient light sensor behavior makes no sense -- it's quite the opposite! When the lights are turned off, I need more brightness and the other way around.
The thing that is annoying from Asus' part is the fact that, while on Windows turning off the ambient light sensor is done easily ('Fn' key + 'a'), they didn't bother to draw any blue symbol on the "A" key to show you can use it in a "Fn" combination (whereas all other possible "Fn" options are drawn on the keyboard).
On Linux however, surprise! this doesn't work. So you will have to do (as root):
echo 0 > /sys/devices/platform/asus_laptop/ls_switch
in order to turn off the ambient light sensor.
Obviously, this is necessary because as long as the stupid sensor is turned on, you can't adjust the brightness manually.
2. Built-in microphone. As of Ubuntu 9.04 and Alsa v. 1.0.18 (and 1.0.19, which I've also tried), the built-in microphone doesn't work.
The problem is the Intel ICH9 device and the Realtek ALC663 codec.
I've tried editing /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf and adding (among other things)
options snd-hda-intel model=m51va
also changing the model to the ones available in Alsa's configuration (ALC662/663 section here), but still no go. Also, everything in alsamixer is unmuted and properly volume-d.
It simply won't work. Maybe... someday...
Anyhow, I can always plug in an external microphone (from my headset) -- the jack controller is infallible. Still, this issue is annoying.
Everything else : ) I really love this notebook. For its price, it does a lot of things.