Asus UL80Vt Thin-And-Light Notebook Review

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User Experience

It's really refreshing to hit this point in a review now that Windows 7 is out. Without question, Win7 makes life so much more enjoyable on a PC. It simply takes better advantage of the hardware at your disposal, and in the UL80Vt's case, even the 1.3GHz CULV processor feels like plenty to push through most basic tasks within the operating system. On Vista, 1.3GHz always felt underpowered; it's incredible what a difference Win7 makes.

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As you can probably imagine, we enjoyed our time with the UL80Vt. Largely thanks to the new operating system, most everything was snappy and responsive. Only during hardcore multi-tasking did applications take more than a second or so to load, and even then we can imagine things being even quicker if you swapped a 7200rpm hard drive or SSD within the machine. The 5400rpm drive is roomy (320GB), but the sluggish spin rate definitely hinders performance overall and in some benchmarks.

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The overall feel of the machine is fantastic. It's light (just 4.4lbs.), thin and honestly, it feels like an ultraportable. Yes, it has a 14" screen and a nice full-size keyboard, but you'd hardly know it. Asus has done a great job in slimming down the chassis, and it's easily one of the sleekest machines out to have a dedicated discrete GPU, 4GB of RAM, HDMI out and a full-size keyboard.

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Below you'll notice the difference a real GPU makes. The lower Win7 Experience score was garnered while using the integrated GMA 4500MHD chipset, while the higher score came with the 512MB NVIDIA GeForce G210M GPU enabled.

Using integrated GMA 4500MHD graphics; Click To Enlarge

Using discrete G210M graphics; Click To Enlarge

Typing on the keyboard was a real pleasure. Asus keyboards have been hit-and-miss for us in the past, but this one is a surefire hit. There's nearly no flex anywhere on the board, each of the "chicklet" keys has a great texture, and each are perfectly spaced out. It felt just like typing on our main workhorse, a 15" notebook, even though it's just a 14" machine. That's an accomplishment. The trackpad is typical Asus; it's a dimpled pad with a solid silver click bar that has left and right click movements. We've never been a big fan of the dimples--the just create too much friction, and we always feel like we're having to press really hard and drag just to move our cursor. On the plus side, this pad is multi-touch enabled, so two-finger gestures and scrolling are fully supported. Hooray!

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The 14" display has a resolution of 1366x768, which is the exact same as the 13.3" panel in the UL30. So really, you gain no extra screen real estate here, but you get a better keyboard because of it, much less heat generation thanks to extra space to move the air and a screen that looks a lot less squished. The panel was bright and crisp, though as always, we would've rather seen a matte display instead of the highly glossy one that is included. Viewing angles are impressive, but the glossy nature makes this one tough to work with outdoors.

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We should mention that multimedia playback is stellar here. Both 1080p and 720p clips played back without so much as a hiccup (with the G210M enabled, mind you), and overall things just felt amazingly smooth. The same videos that won't even play on netbooks cruise along find here, even though there's just a 1.3GHz CPU at the helm.

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