The first thing that came to mind when we tore the Asus UL80Vt from its box was this: "Hmm, this seems familiar." Turns out, the UL80Vt isn't all that different on the surface than the 13.3" UL30A that we reviewed back in September, but just because Asus' latest is another model in the expanded UL range doesn't mean that this machine is just another me-too option. In fact, we'd argue quite the opposite. While many computer manufacturers are trying to force consumers into certain segments (netbooks, gaming notebooks, ultraportables, etc.), Asus is opting to broaden the spectrum and provide more "middle ground" choices. The UL80Vt is a perfect middle ground machine; it splits the difference between a 11" to 13" ultraportable and a 15" to 16" multimedia machine. But just because it's designed for a segment of consumers in dire need of more options, is it really one worth buying?
The CULV boom is still happening, despite the fact that new Intel (and AMD) platforms are expected to land in early 2010. CULV processors allow machines to provide adequate power for playing back multimedia and handling most basic tasks with the minimal drain on a battery, and in most cases, that's plenty for consumers. CULV chips aren't designed for heavy data crunching (video editing, let's say) nor gaming, but it's clear that with just a 14" panel here that Asus never intended buyers to game heavily on this machine. That said, the dual GPU setup in this machine provides a nice extra for those who like to fire up a game from time to time but find themselves using their machine to work on in most cases. There's an Intel GMA 4500MHD integrated GPU in there for when you don't need serious graphical horsepower (or would just like to save your remaining battery), yet a 512MB NVIDIA GeForce G210M (discrete) GPU is also onboard for times when L4D just can't be ignored.
The specifications list below explains that this machine really is splitting the difference between an ultraportable and mainstream multimedia machine. You'll find a CULV CPU (one that can be overclocked to 1.73GHz via Asus' Turbo33 technology) and an integrated GPU for great battery life, yet there's 4GB of RAM and a discrete GPU for power users. In a way, it's the best of both worlds. Even the 14" screen falls perfectly in between the typical 13.3" display on an ultraportable and a 15" panel on a "standard notebook." Have a peek at the innards and then follow us through the pages to come to see how it stacks up in real-world use.
Asus UL80Vt CULV Notebook
Specifications and Features (as tested)
Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 @ 1.30GHz, 533MHz FSB; 512K Cache (1.73GHz with Turbo33 enabled)
320GB (5400RPM) Seagate Momentus 5400.6 Hard Drive
DVD Super Multi Drive
0.3 megapixel webcam
VGA and HDMI Outputs
USB 2.0 x 3
RJ-45 (Ethernet 10/100/1000)
Headphone / Mic Input Jacks
SD / MMC / MSPro Multimedia Card Reader
Gesture-Enabled Multi-Touch Trackpad
4.4 Pounds (with 8-cell battery installed)
Removable 8-Cell Li-ion Battery (Up To 11.5 Claimed Hours of Computing)
13.5" x 9.6" x 1.1" (Dimensions)
Windows 7 Home Premium
Price (street): $823
As you can see, there's an awful lot here for just over $800, and we think you'll be hard pressed to find an equal amount of specs for much less anywhere else. But even though it's a bargain on paper doesn't necessarily mean that it's a winner--read on to find out whether or not this one makes the cut!