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
32GB 1.8" SSD (A2B)
|Optical Drive||Ultra Slim 8X SuperMulti DVD+/-RW|
|Networking||Integrated Gigabit Ethernet
Intel 4965AGN WiFi
|Audio||Realtek ALC660 2-Channel HD Audio|
6-cell 53 WHr
|Front Side||4-in-1 Flash Reader (SM, SD, MS/Pro)|
|Left Side||2 x USB 2.0
WiFi On/Off Switch
GPU Cooling Exhaust
|Right Side||Optical Drive (DVDRW)
1 x USB 2.0
|Back Side||Kensington Lock|
|Operating System||Windows Vista Business 32-bit|
|Dimensions||277mm x 194mm x 24.9-29 mm
10.91" x 7.64" x 0.98-1.14" (WxDxH)
|Weight||2.75 lbs (A2B with 3-cell Battery)|
Leather palm-rests and top
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.