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.

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  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, April 15, 2008 - link

    I haven't used the VAIO TZ, but looking at the pictures they appear practically identical to the ASUS U2E in size and major features. ASUS includes 3GB of RAM where the latest VAIO units ship with 2GB, ASUS provides a mouse and carrying bag and Sony only does that on the top models, and ASUS has a 2-year warranty versus 1-year standard. On top of that the ASUS is priced a few hundred dollars lower for relatively equal specs (i.e. the same outside of the memory config, where ASUS has an extra 1GB). Sony does include T7600 and even T7700 CPUs, however, so the price difference more or less balances out.

    As an example, here's the http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...">VAIO TZ equivalent of the ASUS U2E-A2B. It has a 12.5% faster CPU and comes with Sprint Mobile Broadband (but only a one-month trial, so who cares), with 2GB RAM. That competes with the http://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductDetail.jsp?Pr...">ASUS U2E-A2B, which costs $100 less and includes an external 160GB USB HDD. The difference in price and features is quite small, but with the warranty I'd give the edge to the ASUS.
    Reply
  • erwos - Tuesday, April 15, 2008 - link

    Wasn't there a variant of the U2E that had an external Sideshow display? I would have really liked to have seen that... Reply
  • Myrandex - Tuesday, April 15, 2008 - link

    Why 2GB x 1 & 512MB x 1? Or even 2GB x 1 & 1GB x 1? To get dual channel performance, shouldn't they have two identicle sticks in there? 2GB x 2 ftw~!
    Jason
    Reply
  • BigLan - Tuesday, April 15, 2008 - link

    You can run dual channel with mismatched sticks on intel laptops. I've got 2gb + 512gb on my dell, and cpu-id tells me that it's running dual channel.

    They probably topped out at 3gb because they're shipping 32-bit vista and didn't want to confuse customers with 'missing' ram. You could add in your own 2gb stick for pretty cheap if you wanted to.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, April 15, 2008 - link

    Note also that laptops running a 533FSB with DDR2-533 are already matched in bandwidth even in single channel mode. The extra bandwidth helps with IGP a bit, perhaps, but in a system like this the overall memory performance isn't nearly as critical as power requirements. Reply
  • bigdog1984 - Tuesday, April 15, 2008 - link

    I was reading the article and im in need of some clarification on two points. Does the unit have micro-dvi or hdmi because the breakdown chart has hdmi and the review states dvi and how much ram is in the unit,,,chart says 3 review says 2.5 Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, April 15, 2008 - link

    Sorry - it's Micro-DVI. It looks the same as HDMI, but doesn't carry audio. At first I thought it was HDMI; forgot to update the table. As for the RAM, the systems are apparently supposed to come with 3GB, but the test unit shipped with 2.5GB (as stated on the bottom of page 9). Reply
  • ciparis - Tuesday, April 15, 2008 - link

    Adding features that the MBA omits (like CD/DVD drives, replaceable batteries, and extra ports) is not "addressing shortcomings".

    It's making a different set of tradeoffs.

    Whether that's a good thing will depend an awful lot on your needs and preferences.
    Reply
  • rqle - Tuesday, April 15, 2008 - link

    Yes, needs and preference will always be a factor, but “shortcoming” does hold true. When some body is able to add features in relatively same size why wouldn’t it be a shortcoming? Even apple will release an update model to MBA with more ports, faster, etc… Reply
  • ciparis - Tuesday, April 15, 2008 - link

    "Relatively" hints at the crux of the matter: it's not the same size, and it wouldn't be able to contain those items if it was. If you're pushing for absolute thinness, something has to go. If that's important to you, those are the trade-offs you make.

    Personally I consider having to lug things around that I don't need or want on my laptop most of the time to be drawbacks, but I wouldn't presume to call it a shortcoming of the Asus because have a clear understanding that that's my preference. It's a feature trade-off that makes sense to me but says nothing about what might make sense to the next guy.
    Reply

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