Before netbooks came along, ultra-portable laptops computers were the most expensive ones you could get. I don’t have any proof that the netbook hyped caused them to get cheaper, but they have. I bumped into Asus’ new UL30A model in a local store this weekend, and it was love at first sight. Here’s a machine that can do everything that bigger laptops can, but in a very sexy and slim package. I hate lugging around a big heavy laptop, so this one seemed pretty much ideal for me.
The only major form factor trade-off in the UL30A is that it doesn’t have an optical drive. I’m not sure I’ll ever miss it, but other than that there’s very little to complain about. There’s a Core 2 Duo processor (1.3 GHz SU7300), 4 GB of state-of-the-art DDR3 RAM, a roomy 500GB hard drive, HDMI output, wireless-n, bluetooth, one of those fancy chicklet keyboards and a LED backlit screen. And the cover is made out of brushed aluminium. My wife’s 15.4″ Compaq laptop looks very clunky and plasticky by comparison. I love the UL30A’s clean looks.
Asus has long been one of my favorite brands. My first ever PC had an Asus mainboard (the famous P55T2P4), and so does my current PC. I’ve had many people recommend their laptops to me for their durability, and my Eee-PC also feels exceptionally well-built. I considered Acer’s Timeline, but I keep hearing horror stories about broken hinges and poor support from Acer customers.
I’m not going to be doing a full review, there are plenty out there already. I’d just like to second that the screen is a potential Achilles heel. It has narrow viewing angles and needs to be “aimed” at you to get decent color rendition. And even then there’s a blueish bias. This may be fixable using settings in the driver, but I’d have preferred a better default setting.
Other than that the UL30A is the best notebook I’ve ever worked with. It’s very responsive, doesn’t come loaded with crapware (some, but not a lot) and it runs for up to ten hours on a single charge. The box had one of the worst taglines I’ve ever seen, “Smart Laptop, Smart You”. But it definitely is a smart laptop.