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Asus ROG GM703 – Two year review

Asus gaming machine. It turned out to be pretty good, but two years later, I'm looking for something new.
(See online!)

At the time I bought this, ASUS and MSI were the two top contenders. Both were solid brands with good history and all the features I wanted, but MSI has a weird obsession with making the keyboard perfectly rectangular at the expense of shoving all the keys together. As soon as I noticed the ASUS had a more spaced out keyboard and even a few media keys, the choice was obvious. In practice the keyboard is easy and natural to type on, though for some unknowable reason, there's no light indicating Num Lock status and no easily accessed END key which is REALLY annoying.

That aside, the coloration and controls are good, the performance is good, it's much thinner and lighter than my Qosmio and, most importantly, there's an empty RAM slot so I could upgrade from 16GB to 32 very easily (which I did).

The screen is crazy bright and I don't think I've used it on even 50% brightness yet because I'd likely get a burn from the glare. I think the macho ROG symbol is a bit childish but I wouldn't mind it too much if I could at least customize the color of the glowing ROG eye on the back of my screen.

Grr. So manly! Chest thump! WOOO. Look at my menacing laptop!

At the one year mark, I noticed two other problems. The function keys are shifted slightly further right than they should be making it too easy to hit the wrong one or the delete key when you mean F12. Additionally the fun keyboard color feature is less so when the color is weak and without definition. Either it's weakened considerably over the year or it was never as bright to begin with. Either way, the advertised color and reality are starkly different.

It's a shame. It's not an important feature, but I thought the lighted keyboard would be cool; not dim.

Second: I noticed this problem early, but didn't want to deal with it because I waited so long to buy the laptop that I just couldn't bring myself to return it. Every now and then it has problems with the disk hanging. I can move around, click windows, and so on, but disk-heavy programs (in particular VMware which I use for virtual machines) seem to lock hard. After that, the computer becomes incredibly slow in all programs (particularly any that would use the disk). If I try to shut it down, it hangs for so long that I usually just force power it down and when I restart, my login screen is wrong and I have to reset it.

I'm still not entirely sure if it's Windows 10 problem, a VMware problem, or an ASUS problem, but I figured it was better to point it out in case others had a similar issue.

In the end, it's a good laptop that did what I wanted it to. It has a few downsides that aren't critical enough that I wouldn't choose Asus again; but it wasn't great enough that it's my top choice for the next laptop either.
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Beware the Targus XL 617 Backpack – It’s not what it used to be

don't believe their lies... this post shows the old (awesome) backpack, but they ship you the new (lame) one instead
(See online!)

When I had some extra cash for the first time in basically ever, I splurged and bought myself a big, honking gaming laptop (whee!). The main problem with it was finding something to carry it in, but at the time there was a pretty rocking Targus backpack made for exactly this kind of problem. I think it's been almost 10 years now and it's stood up to quite a few trips across the states and out of country. It's sturdy, roomy, and boy does it last. There might be one or two tiny frays or broken bits, but that's pretty danged good for its age.

You go, you ancient, everlasting backpack!

Fast forward to today (last year actually, but close enough). I got a bonus and start eyeing the new laptops. At the same time, I figure my old one would be a great hand-me down for the kids, but they'd need a backpack too. I figure, why not get a brand new Targus XL 617 for me and give them the still-sturdy old one (since they don't travel near as much anyway). It was a perfect plan… until I got this garbage instead:

Who are you! What did you do with my REAL backpack!?

I'm exaggerating calling it "garbage" of course, but it was a nasty surprise. Not that I hadn't seen a few reviews warning that there's a new model and it's inferior to the old ones, but the pictures on the website still show the old model and not the new one.

Here's an updated post with the CORRECT new backpack clearly displayed
(See online!)

It's not that the new backpack is really all that bad, but it's going to be a huge disappointment when you compare it to the old design when they knew what quality looked like. That's why I tried two separate times to get the real backpack and was fairly irked when I ended up with bait-and-switch for the new, stinky one. Apparently Targus used the exact same model number, but completely changed the quality which might not be intentional tomfoolery, but it does create confusion and disappointment regardless. When you see this backpack around, don't just assume you're getting the right one:

Are they real? Are they the fakes? There's no way to know.

Just be sure if you order one, check for the nice, solid, tubular handle and not the hand-destroying flat one. If you've got it, you're good. If not, return it or do a credit card chargeback for goods not as described.

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