ASUS UL80Vt First Look: Mobility Redefinedby Jarred Walton on October 24, 2009 8:00 PM EST
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ASUS UL80Vt Design
Okay, we've covered the specifications and features, so let's see what the laptop actually looks like.
As good as the features and specifications are on the UL80Vt, ASUS also made sure that they didn't skimp on the design elements. Here it's not quite as clear of a victory, but there's plenty to like with the UL80Vt aesthetics. For one, ASUS has added a brushed aluminum cover on the top of the chassis. That alone is enough to make us drool, but unfortunately the aluminum surfaces end there. Open up the laptop, and you'll find that the LCD bezel and palm rest are still glossy plastic -- a double whammy considering the black color scheme. Fingerprints? Yes, we have those in abundance.
As usual, the LCD is also of the glossy variety. We haven't conducted in-depth testing of the LCD, but we did run a quick test of brightness and contrast ratio. Maximum brightness is good at nearly 240 nits, but the black level is an equally high 1.16 nits resulting in a poor contrast ratio of only 204:1. After we were so impressed by the 1200:1 contrast ratio of the $400 ASUS Eee 1005HA, it's disappointing to see a laptop that costs twice as much get the short shrift when it comes to LCD panels. We are continually baffled by the way companies choose to cut corners on such an important component for laptops; after all, the LCD is what you actually look at the whole time you're using the computer.
We can't blame ASUS too much, though, since virtually all companies are using the same sort of LCD panels. The common explanation is that margins are so low on LCD panels and laptops that they don't have the ability to use a more expensive display. Personally, I'd happily spend significantly more money on a laptop (at least $100) if it meant I could get a high quality display. And for the record: high quality means it needs a high contrast ratio along with a good color gamut; I'd love something other than a TN panel in a laptop, but I'm beginning to think that hope is in vain.
Besides the glossiness, we have few complaints with the design of the UL80Vt. It has a nice, slim form factor and a sleek, businesslike aesthetic. This is definitely the type of laptop you could take into a board meeting and not feel out of place. The touchpad is a bit unusual, in that ASUS has a bumpy area on the palm rest rather than the normal recessed touchpad. This is similar to the touchpad they used on the ASUS 1005HA, only it's larger and subjectively it works better. The touchpad also supports multi-touch, so you can use two fingers and swipe to quickly scroll through documents, right-click, etc. We definitely like the multi-touch aspect of the touchpad, and it's nice to see more companies going that route.