Asus UX30 notebook review

The Asus UX30 is a CULV laptop, using low powered components in order to keep the dimensions as small as possible. As such, the 13.3-inch machine measures a smidgen over 2cm at it’s thickest, and weighs in at 1.5kg, putting it broadly on par with Apple’s MacBook Air.

Like the Air, quality is also an area where this laptop shines, with a neatly integrated brushed aluminium lid, and tactile textured plastics. It’s a stylish and cohesive design, with the ports hidden behind magnetised covers, and a glossy cover over the screen that stretches right to the edges of the chassis.

The 13.3-inch screen uses LED backlighting to offer bright and vivid colours, also cutting down on power consumption. The 1366 x 768-pixel resolution results in detailed images, with enough space on screen for a couple of documents side-by-side. While the glossy coating looks great, and enhances the design, it’s a case of form over function, proving highly reflective once out on the road – which is where this machine will surely be used most.

The keyboard features the same isolation style as many other high-end rivals, with keys sticking out through separate holes in the chassis. It’s backlit, adding a hint of quality and making it easy to use in dark conditions, although some users will find the keys slightly too small. It’s easy to strike up a decent typing speed, however. Excellent usability is also offered by the touchpad, which is more than large enough for comfortable and precise use.  

Intel’s Core 2 Duo SU9400 processor, backed by 4GB of memory, offers adequate office performance, but it lacks the power of the MacBook Air, or other high-end rivals such as Sony’s VAIO Z-series. Battery life is good – lasting for over 5 and a half hours when carrying out several office tasks simultaneously, so 6 hours is on the cards when running single apps.

Graphics are handled by an integrated Intel GMA 4500M chip, so don’t expect to carry out intensive 3D tasks or play games in your spare time. Granted, this isn’t a major setback in a laptop of this type, but it does place it behind the Air, Z-series and even the latest ION netbooks in the multimedia stakes.

There’s no optical drive, but there is a decent array of ports – putting the Air to shame. On the left-hand side of the chassis, behind the plastic cover, you’ll find a single USB, mini-VGA, HDMI-out and an Ethernet connection. The left side houses a further two USB ports, and there’s also a flash memory card reader. Along with Gigabit Ethernet for speedy fixed network connections, draft-n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth offer wireless connectivity.

Verdict

Despite the fact most other CULV laptops are selling for considerably less than the Asus UX30’s £999 price tag, it’s difficult not to be impressed by this stylish machine. Few laptops can offer such a great mix of style and quality at this price, and the compact dimensions and light weight make it a great companion for the daily commute. Look elsewhere if value for money is high on your agenda, however, and the same goes for those of you seeking a portable powerhouse.