Thursday marked the official launch of Windows 7, so perhaps we can finally put those Mac versus PC commercials behind us. Whatever your feelings towards Vista, the fact remains that it garnered a less than stellar reputation. As we discussed in our Windows 7 RC1 article, many people have the impression that Windows Vista is awful but they can't tell you why. Microsoft hopes to change things with the launch of Windows 7, a.k.a. Windows Vista 2.0.

One of the sore spots for Windows, and Vista in particular, has always been battery life. We have discussed this previously, but the simple fact of the matter is that Mac OS X on a MacBook is easily putting any Windows laptop to shame when it comes to mobility. There are many potential contributing factors, including better optimization of the hardware/software combination, tweaks to perhaps enable lower voltages by default on Intel CPUs, and the ability to keep the CPUs running in deeper sleep states more of the time. We will have an updated comparison with OS X in the near future, but to date everything appears to be in favor of Apple MacBook; Windows 7 improves the situation.

Microsoft has a white paper detailing some of the changes in Windows 7 that should result in improved battery life. We have already explored this topic previously, but those are only preliminary results. Moving forward, the laptops we review are going to shift to Windows 7 instead of Windows Vista, and today marks the onslaught of the Windows 7 laptop releases. One of the first Windows 7-based laptops to arrive in our labs for testing comes from ASUS.


We looked at the ASUS UL50Vt running on Windows 7 Home Basic and found that ASUS could deliver nearly 7 hours of battery life while surfing the Internet -- and that's using our heavy Flash-based tests. One of the more interesting aspects of the ASUS UL series is that they allow overclocking of the ULV processors -- typically 1.73GHz instead of the default 1.30GHz, though in low-power states it's also overclocked from 800MHz to 1066MHz. The overclocking is achieved by simply raising the FSB from 800MHz to 1066MHz; since the chipset and other components can all run a 1066FSB already, the only component that's truly overclocked is the CPU, and it has no difficulty running at 1.73GHz.

We have the final release version of the ASUS UL80Vt in our hands, and we have begun testing. Today we provide a quick look at what the laptop offers and our initial impressions.

ASUS UL80Vt Overview
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  • feelingshorter - Sunday, October 25, 2009 - link

    We understand that it takes a long time to test the battery. Just wanted to know that you are working on it for the final review. Thanks :) Reply
  • CurseTheSky - Sunday, October 25, 2009 - link

    I just bought a UL30A-A2 on Thursday. It's a wonderful laptop, though not quite perfect.

    Unlike the ULxxVt laptops, the non-Vts come with just the X4500MHD, which is abysmal for anything other than general web browsing and watching movies. While I love the smallness of my 13.3", if I had read sooner than the UL80Vt comes with on-the-fly switchable graphics, I probably would have bought it instead. Oh well. Additionally, as far as I know the entire UL series also lacks Bluetooth, which kind of sucks. ASUS stated somewhere (one Amazon, I believe) that they're considering bundling a USB Bluetooth dongle.

    Anyway, what was said in this article about the build quality is very true. It's sort of a mixed bag, but overall much better than most of the competition. The brushed aluminum cover is a very nice touch, and the plastic palm rest doesn't feel all that bad. The glossy black around the LCD is annoying (adds extra glare and really attracts finger prints), but the hinges really feel solid and the keyboard is excellent. The trackpad is a bit odd, but I find that I actually like it. Don't expect a Macbook Pro / Air in terms of fit and finish, but do expect something that'll get your friends or the locals at Starbucks asking "What's an ASUS?" and "That's nice, where did you get that?" Best of all, it doesn't cost as much as a Macbook Pro.

    Really, the best part of these things is the battery life. Several reviews I've read have clocked around 8-9 hours real-world performance (ASUS claims 16 on my particular model, and the consensus seems to be that 12-13 wouldn't be unreasonable in a best-case scenario). I can't wait to read the Anandtech follow-up; I've always loved their testing methodology. The thinness and lightness of the series - particularly the smaller models - is also a huge plus.

    Overall, great article, and great laptop. For anyone that values portability over performance but still wants something that'll fair (much) better than a netbook under stress, I highly recommend the UL series. Nice job ASUS.
    Reply
  • Gooberlx2 - Monday, October 26, 2009 - link

    http://www.amazon.com/UL30vt/forum/Fx1978M98LGJ2GT...">http://www.amazon.com/UL30vt/forum/Fx19...mp;store...

    Maybe the UL30vt will be available stateside some time in December?

    I don't really put too much stock in to forum postings from sources one can't really verify. But since I won't have any $$$ until at least after the New Year, I'm certainly hoping it's true.
    Reply
  • Uncreative - Sunday, October 25, 2009 - link

    I've been watching this one ever since you guys posted the first look on the UL50VT. I've been looking to buy a laptop for class and a one day charge to last me through lecture and a good couple hours at the library would be perfect. I'm definately with you on the panel, I'd gladly pay more for a better LCD.

    I saw that they had the SU9400 listed as one of the possible models, was wondering if anyone has any idea when/if that model is coming?
    Reply
  • Drizzt321 - Sunday, October 25, 2009 - link

    Wow, I've have been wanting to find a laptop with one of the ULV Intel processors that doesn't cost an arm and a leg. Add to that the switchable graphics, and decent cost, and I think I've found my winner! Except, of course, the LCD. I'd like to do some graphics work (digital photography) on the go, and a good quality panel would be very nice. Hell, just give me a nice TN panel with this laptop and I'll be good. Give me an IPS/MVA/PVA panel and I'll be in heaven. For one of those good panels, I'd happily pay an extra $150-$200. Do you hear that Asus? There are people willing to pay for quality! Reply
  • dtham - Monday, October 26, 2009 - link

    This is very ideal for schoolwork etc. I would love to see one that has a touchscreen display for taking notes, etc.

    The downside to the touchscreen is that it will be likely to have an even worse screen. However, with battery life for light work like this it would be absolutely awesome for students.

    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, October 26, 2009 - link

    Ugh... I hate touch screens. I can type at 60 WPM, or chicken scratch at about 20 WPM (okay, maybe 30?) Anyway, you can get the Acer Aspire 5738PM with a touch screen, but that has worse battery life and it's not a tablet. I wouldn't buy a touch screen, though, unless things were much better than the last time I used one. Reply
  • chrnochime - Sunday, October 25, 2009 - link

    At a higher price of 1.5k, manufacturers KNOW they can better justify adding that option, since people paying that much for laptop are much more willing to pay a bit more for PVA than those at the 820 USD price.
    Consider this: 200 for a panel option on a laptop that costs 820. That's almost 25% increase. Versus 200 on a 1500, which is ~13.4%. Latter case much more acceptable to buyer when taking original price into account.

    Reply
  • munim - Sunday, October 25, 2009 - link

    Dude: Hey is that a Macbook Air?
    Dudette: No, it's an ASUS UL80Vt
    Dude: You'll what?
    Reply
  • san1s - Saturday, October 24, 2009 - link

    this looks great, and it has an optical drive. I wonder if there's any way to get it past 1.7 ghz? Reply

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