We've always liked the "Seashell" design, with a few caveats. The entire machine, inside an out, uses a glossy finish, which is highly prone to attracting fingerprints. Our review unit was glossy black through and through, though a few other color options will be available (silver, blue and red). The system's dimensions, right down to the weight with a 6-cell battery installed, remain the same as the original.
The panel itself is glossy too and the native 1366x768 resolution remains. On the outside, you'll notice a few status indicator LEDs along the front edge, a VGA output, AC input socket, USB 2.0 port and HDMI socket along the left edge.
On the right edge, there's an SD/SDHC/MMC card slot, two USB 2.0 ports separated by audio in/out ports, an Ethernet jack, and a Kensington lock slot. No other sockets are located along the front or rear. The hinge design for the LCD remains the same, allowing it to recline a healthy distance, but definitely not fully flat.
The keyboard is the chiclet variety, which has become extremely popular over the past few months. There's also the typical "bumped" trackpad, which supports multi-gestures. The single silver click button isn't our favorite; you have to mash one side or the other for left/right clicks, but there's no separating line between. As expected, Asus has splashed the palm rest with a shocking number of stickers. This really ruins the classy look inside, but we don't suspect they'll be taking our advice to remove them anytime soon. Of course users can take matters into their own hands anyway.
The build quality is about what we expected. It's a machine that relies heavily on plastic, and while we wouldn't want to drop it on concrete from any distance, it should hold up well under normal travel circumstances. There's minimal keyboard and LCD flex, and the LCD hinge itself holds quite well once situated. The trackpad itself is needlessly small, and there's no middle trackpoint controller either. It's certainly thin and light enough for our tastes, but considering that Asus has made no improvements on these aspects over the past seven months, we'd say that the next generation will need to be a touch thinner and more solid in our opinion. We're about at the point where keeping the same shell and just slightly tweaking the inside isn't going to cut it in the eye of the demanding consumer.