ASUS U2E Overview

ASUS U2E Specifications
Processor Core 2 Duo U7500 (1.067GHz 2MB 533FSB)
Chipset Intel GM965 + ICH8-ME
Memory 1x1024MB + 1x2048MB DDR2-667
Maximum 4GB Supported
Graphics Intel GMA X3100 (Integrated)
Display 11.1" WXGA (1366x768) with LED Backlighting
Hard Drive 120GB 1.8" 4800RPM 8MB Cache (A1B)
32GB 1.8" SSD (A2B)
Optical Drive Ultra Slim 8X SuperMulti DVD+/-RW
Networking Integrated Gigabit Ethernet
Intel 4965AGN WiFi
Bluetooth v2.0
Audio Realtek ALC660 2-Channel HD Audio
Battery 3-Cell 29WHr
6-cell 53 WHr
9-cell 86WHr
Front Side 4-in-1 Flash Reader (SM, SD, MS/Pro)
Left Side 2 x USB 2.0
WiFi On/Off Switch
VGA
Micro-DVI
ExpressCard/34
Headphone/Mic
GPU Cooling Exhaust
Right Side Optical Drive (DVDRW)
Gigabit Ethernet
1 x USB 2.0
56K Modem
Back Side Kensington Lock
Operating System Windows Vista Business 32-bit
Dimensions 277mm x 194mm x 24.9-29 mm (WxDxH)
10.91" x 7.64" x 0.98-1.14" (WxDxH)
Weight 2.75 lbs (A2B with 3-cell Battery)
Extras Fingerprint scanner
0.3MP webcam
BlueTooth Mouse
Leather palm-rests and top
Carrying Bag
Warranty 2-year standard
1-year Battery pack warranty
30-day Zero Bright Dot guarantee
Free 2-way FedEx overnight shipping
24/7 phone support

ASUS is offering two different versions of the U2E. The A1B model is a more typical ultraportable notebook, equipped with a 1.8" 120GB hard drive. The A2B is identical in all areas except for the choice of mass storage. Instead of a traditional hard drive, ASUS includes a 32GB solid-state drive (SSD). That should certainly improve performance in disk intensive applications, but with the size of Windows Vista and modern applications 32GB can fill up very quickly.

The solid-state drive in our A2B comes from Samsung, and it offers very good read/write performance in comparison to 1.8" platter-based drives (57MB/s read, 38MB/s write). Unfortunately, besides the lack of space the drive also increases the price of the U2E substantially. The base model A1B carries an MSRP of $2000, while the A2B ups the ante to $2600. A quick search on the Internet however reveals that the A2B can be found for $2500. The A2B is also supposed to include an external 160GB USB hard drive - or at least that's our understanding; we didn't receive one with our review sample and it's not entirely clear looking online whether all A2B models include the extra drive or not.

Beyond the hard drive considerations, the U2E does offer some very interesting features. One of our complaints with ASUS' earlier U1E ultraportable - and a complaint we also have with the MacBook Air - is the lack of an optical drive, and ASUS has managed to remedy that. It's really nice to get a DVD+RW in an 11.1" chassis; the inclusion of the optical drive almost certainly increased the overall size and weight of the U2E, but we're more than happy to deal with a few extra millimeters thickness for the added flexibility.

The video options are also very good, providing users with both VGA and Micro-DVI outputs. Many other ultraportables provide only one or the other. It might have been nice to get HDMI rather than just Micro-DVI (the difference being HDMI supports audio), but most people won't care. We tested both outputs and found they worked well; being able to run 1920x1200 over a digital interface is definitely preferable to VGA.

Related to the video options is the display, which is one of the better LCDs we've used on a laptop. ASUS uses LED backlighting, which allows for a brighter display while reducing weight and power requirements. For an 11.1" LCD, the 1366x768 resolution works quite well; we have been spoiled by our use of large 24" and 30" desktop LCDs, but it's unreasonable to expect such high resolutions in an ultraportable - and we're not sure our eyes would be able to cope with such a fine dot pitch even if they were available.

The remaining features include all the usual stuff: Gigabit Ethernet (with no silly USB dongle), 802.11N networking, Bluetooth - even a modem, just to be safe. You also get three USB ports, a flash memory reader, and an ExpressCard/34 slot. The list of features isn't going to compete with larger notebooks, but in comparison to other ultraportables and the MacBook Air, the ASUS U2E does very well. The default battery is somewhat small (2600 mAh), but ASUS offers two upgraded battery capacities (4800 mAh and 7800 mAh). We received both the stock and XXL batteries for testing. ASUS also does an exceptional job with the packaging, as you can see in the following gallery.

One feature that might be easy to overlook is the very good warranty that ASUS provides. Users get a standard two-year warranty - one year on the battery pack - and a 30-day Zero Bright Dot Guarantee for the LCD. That should ensure that everyone is happy with their laptop when it arrives, but just in case things go wrong the warranty coverage includes free overnight shipping both ways if you need to send the notebook in for repairs. While not as convenient as on-site service, free overnight shipping is definitely better than what you get with most laptop warranties. ASUS states that the warranty is a $250 value, and that seems reasonable. Of course, many ultraportable business notebooks include three-year warranties, and if you purchase from a larger OEM you can even get next day on-site service. Regardless, the ASUS standard warranty is much better than the one-year warranty many laptops provide.

Index Genuine Bovine Beauty
POST A COMMENT

32 Comments

View All Comments

  • lewchenko74 - Tuesday, April 15, 2008 - link


    Hmmm..

    This review is somewhat flawed. First of all... I echo the comments made by someone else. The MacBook Air is NOT an ultra portable. Its small form factor.. sure, but its still a 13.3" laptop... along with the Dell 1330 XPS and a host of other small factor laptops.

    So I dont see why you have to keep banging on about the MacBook Air.

    Also ... no mention of the EEE, which has just seen the new model released with a larger 9" screen capable of running 1024x600.

    And lets not forget the Lenovo X300 - currently the DADDY of small form factor / ultra portable models. A recent comparison review of the X300 vs Mac Book Air found the Lenovo model stomped all over Apple's baby. (Source : PC PRO magazine)

    With regards to this model in the review... its damn ugly. That faux leather look is so 1980's and it looks cheap and nasty. The processor is lacking in all honesty .. although not as bad as the EEE's.

    And what's with Vista Ultimate ???? on a device like this what on earth is the point of shipping such a heavy OS? Vista Home or even XP home maybe.. but not ultimate.

    World gone mad!
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, April 15, 2008 - link

    The ASUS Eee PC - even the 8.9" model - is in a completely different category. Sure, it's an ultraportable in size, but the single core CPU, limited memory, and other features make it a rather different setup. Also, it's not yet shipping.

    The Lenovo X300 you mention is in the exact same category as the MacBook Air and XPS M1330, in that it is also a 13.3" laptop. Sorry for not explicitly mentioning it, but we should have a review forthcoming.

    Finally, while you may not like the leather design of the U2E, it's not "faux" at all. This is real leather. I much prefer it to the glossy coatings found on many laptops. Obviously, tastes will differ. Vista Ultimate? Well, that's what ASUS installed on the review sample; Vista Business apparently ships on the retail versions. I have no problem with Vista these days, as long as you have 2GB or more RAM.
    Reply
  • Alphafox78 - Tuesday, April 15, 2008 - link

    They are almost in different categories, but It seems logical to me that the eee 701 should have been listed here as a comparison. I also dont understand why they give review samples of ultra portables to reviewers who have a bias towards 23" LCDs and quad core cpus. they always seem to get negative reviews and why wouldnt they in that light.

    In terms of 3d performance, obviously its not its forte, but it would have been nice to see some 3dmark01 results. if it doesnt work with 3dmark06, why were the results even listed. seems really dumb to me to list a result of zero when its just the benchmark app that doesnt work with the x3100.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, April 15, 2008 - link

    The 3DMark results are *NOT* zero... they're just so low relative to the other laptops that the numbers get pushed into the text. For reference, the scores are:

    3DMark03: 1075
    3DMark05: 592
    3DMark06: 351

    If you want detailed 3DMark06 results:
    3DMarks: 351.000000000
    SM2.0 Score: 104.000000000
    SM3.0 Score: 141.000000000
    CPU Score: 889.000000000
    Reply
  • Alphafox78 - Tuesday, April 15, 2008 - link

    thanks for the #s, didnt see em.
    those really arent that bad, the eee gets around 700 3dmark03 when you overclock it, and thats at 800x480!
    Reply
  • Lonyo - Tuesday, April 15, 2008 - link

    A MBA isn't even an ultraportable.
    It's not light, and the footprint is too big.

    I'm not saying it's a bad machine, but compared to 10~11" laptops, it's not really in the same class.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, April 15, 2008 - link

    But there really aren't many 10-11" laptops out there that do compete with the U2E. 12" tablets? Sure. Otherwise, the only currently shipping product I see is the Sony VAIO TZ line... which almost looks like it's manufactured in the same plant as the ASUS U2E. The question is whether people would prefer thinner with a slightly larger keyboard and LCD but without an internal DVD, or thicker with a smaller LCD and a DVD. Weight is about the same. Personally, I'd go for a Dell XPS M1330, because 13.3" is more comfortable for long-term use. (Lenovo X300 is another option in the 13.3" size, with a 1440x900 LCD I think and a 64GB SSD.) Reply
  • Johnmcl7 - Tuesday, April 15, 2008 - link

    I've seen a few comparisons putting an M1330 alongside an ultralight but to me this is very false, although the M1330 doesn't look that much bigger on paper I think in reality it is.

    I've had a Sony TX for a couple of years now and I think it's an incredible ultralight machine, more recently I've picked up a 1330 but I've been disappointed with it, in my mind I was expecting something a little larger than the TX with a lot more power. However the 1330 just feels nowhere near as portable, more like a compact 'big' machine if that makes any sense. The M1330 packs a lot of power but at the serious cost of batterylife, on its extended battery it can manage 5 hours or so but the TX on its extended battery can last over twice as long.

    Aside from the performance I find the little TX surprisingly good, it remains just big enough to have a usable keyboard, onboard optical drive, vga port, lan port etc. which previously ultralights did without.

    I do agree the 1330 is a bit more usable in that it has a great keyboard although I find the screen resolution lets it down a bit, one notch higher resolution would have made it more useful to me.

    I'm interested in this review as I'm considering changing my machines, the TX's main weakness to me at least is its sluggish 1.8 inch hard drive. However with SSD that's not a problem, I have a Sony UX1XN with similar specs and a 32GB SSD and I'm perfectly happy with the performance which is far better than the TX. So I have my eye on the Sony TZ as it has the dual core processor, SSD and onboard 3G which would be a decent upgrade. However the price is the main issue so I'll need to see how the Asus compares pricewise in the UK.

    I'm always in two minds about the M1330 though, sometimes I feel it's a waste of money and I should sell it along with the TX to fund a TZ. However other times it's beefier processor and dedicated graphics make it a handy travel companion when I just can't take the bulk of the M1710.

    I'm just saying I don't think the M1330 and TZ can be compared as rivals, despite being close in size I think they are actually quite different machines.

    John
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, April 15, 2008 - link

    They're definitely different machines and compete in different spaces. The real question is which type of machine users really want? If you really want an ultraportable - compromise performance for improved portability - the VAIO TZ and ASUS U2E are great options. The difficulty comes in figuring out if that's what you really want.

    For me, my laptop wish list looks something like the following:

    Roughly a 13" to 15" laptop chassis (I'm flexible here)
    Definitely a 1440x900 or 1680x1050 LCD (or even 1920x1200)
    LED backlighting, a higher color gamut (at least 70%), and preferably something other than a TN panel
    A good keyboard layout - for a 15" chassis, it needs a number keypad
    For now, Core 2 Duo T8300 or T9300 processor
    4GB RAM (but I'll still hold off Vista 64-bit for now)
    A large 7200RPM HDD, or at least a 64GB SSD without spending more than $500 on the drive
    Something better than integrated graphics - GeForce 8700M or 9500M would probably work - but before this really becomes a good idea I want NVIDIA's HybridPower technology so that the discrete GPU can shut off when it's not needed
    Get it under 5 pounds and with 5 (or more) hours of battery life

    Some of the above items simply aren't available yet, of course, but that's why it's a wish list. :)
    Reply
  • Wurger - Tuesday, April 15, 2008 - link

    I would like to get an idea of how comparable this notebook is to a Sony VGN-TZ. It looks like both are being marketed the same way. Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now