When it comes to marketing notebooks, it has always been the case of either pushing for outright specification superiority or design excellence. With the introduction of Intel Centrino mobile technology since 2003, the former has been streamlined extensively that there is not much to separate one Centrino notebook from the next. Hence, notebook manufacturers and vendors these days are mostly left to compete in industrial design and manufacturing.
Already renowned as one of the leading names in notebooks and notebook manufacturing, it came as no surprise when ASUS dropped a bombshell in the form of S6F on our laps. Immediately, the unique selling point of this lightweight, portable computing machine is for all to see where instead of using polycarbonate plastic, brushed aluminum or carbon fiber panels, the finishing was, for the first time, done with genuine leather. Color availability is currently limited to a rather bright orange-brown shade, but we were assured that a few colors (including a contemporary gray) would be released throughout the remaining months of 2006.
Though the leather panel does project luxury that other notebooks couldn't, the S6F is literally more than just skin deep where quality is concerned. Gaps in seams are tight, reflecting a high level of manufacturing while finishing of the metallic chassis speaks volumes of the meticulous craftsmanship that went into the S6F. From any angle you care to inspect the notebook, you would be hard pressed to find much, if any, aesthetics or engineering shortcomings with the leather-clad 1.6kg compact. In fact, so much thought went into the aesthetics of the S6F that ASUS ensured the notebook had a smooth homogenous finish by covering up the several connectivity jacks (RJ-11 modem, RJ-45 Ethernet, two USB ports and microphone input) at the side with a flap that blends in seamlessly with the design. Build quality aside and moving into using the notebook, audio handling was expectedly on the soft side, but this is often the case with lightweight, portable notebooks.
Despite its diminutive dimensions, there are plenty of connections to go around, both wired and wireless. In the space-challenged chassis of the S6F, ASUS has managed to pack in three USB 2.0 ports, an ExpressCard slot, Bluetooth and 802.11a/b/g WiFi. It even has an analog D-Sub video output for presentation purposes, which is quite necessary because the onboard 11.1-inch display is never going to impose itself as a compelling presentation unit. FireWire connection was the only surprising omission given the varied connectivity the S6F packs, but in practical sense, it's fair to assume that most users would prefer three USB 2.0 ports as opposed to having one FireWire port paired with two USB 2.0 ports.
Apart from the three USB 2.0 ports and an ExpressCard slot for storage add-ons which are in addition to the onboard storage duo of a 80GB hard disk drive (upgradeable to 100GB) and a 9.5mm Super Multi DVD writer, the S6F also has a memory card reader that supports major flash memories for convenient information sharing. With the exception of digital cameras that use Compact Flash or xD memory cards, the lightweight S6F can be readily deployed as a portable image vault or editing platform for photography enthusiasts and the likes. And because an Intel Core Duo processor is at the core, the S6F is perfectly poised for multi-threaded applications such as Adobe Photoshop and applications of similar programming.
All things considered, the ASUS S6F is a notebook that not only looks the part, but is also one that performs as expected of its US$2,330 price tag. The best incentive of getting the S6F however is the promise of exclusivity due of its steep asking price and because you want to indulge yourself in all things leather; notebooks included.