Asus 13.3" UL30A CULV Notebook Review

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User Experience


By and large, using the Asus UL30 is a real pleasure. It's incredibly thin and light, the build quality is above average and the keyboard is very good, particularly considering the size here. Boot-up was reasonably quick, and while the 500GB hard drive only spins at 5400RPM, we were generally impressed with load times.


A Look Inside Asus' UL30; Click To Enlarge

We should say that a 7200RPM drive or SSD would be fantastic, but we're not sure we'd be willing to a) pay the upgrade charge and b) deal with the extra heat, with a 7200 RPM HD anyway. As it stands, the machine loads applications sufficiently quick given the $799 price tag, and it never once got uncomfortably hot. We'll take quick enough, affordable and cool any day. Our test machine produced a 3.7 rating in the Windows Vista Experience, with the integrated GPU pulling the score down. CPU, RAM and HDD ratings were above average, though.


Asus UL30 Vista Experience Score; Click To Enlarge

The styling here is also fantastic. The brushed aluminum lid looks great (and not chintzy at all), and the silver inside underneath the black keys really pops. Our only gripe on internal design is the super glossy display and bezel, both of which seem to attract fingerprints. We should also point out that the trackpad bothered us a bit due to its slickness. There are dimples in the pad, but no clear edge; this led us to mouse off of the pad a number of times, and we generally felt that bumps (as opposed to recessed dimples) would've served users better. Also, the left/right click bar is far too skinny (as we mentioned earlier), which generally led to frustratingly slow click times.


Asus UL30 Power Saving Options; Click To Enlarge

Once the machine was booted, we were mildly annoyed by the Norton pop-up. We wish PC makers would leave this type of stuff on a sperate disc. Outside of that, bloatware wasn't an issue. We also felt the amount of stickers inside was overkill. A huge sticker on the right side takes up nearly the entire palm rest, while the others just detract from what would be a really clean, sleek look.


Asus UL30 Keyboard Closeup; Click To Enlarge

The LCD hinge was solid, leaning back only when we pushed it and having a smooth glide the whole way. Application loading, as mentioned, was sufficiently fast. Still, general computing within Vista felt much snappier on this machine than any of Asus' Eee PC netbooks (as it should). We also noticed very little heat from the machine during our testing, so kudos to Asus for keeping things cool. Finally, our multimedia tests found the machine plenty capable of playing back HD YouTube clips and 720p content, but 1080p material slowed the machine to a crawl. Still, 720p is plenty for most (particularly on a 13.3" screen), so we were happy to see it handle the content so well.


Asus UL30 Display; Click To Enlarge
 

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