ASUS is most well known in the computer enthusiast market for their motherboards, but they're making headway in the mobile market as well. As part of our CES coverage, ASUS loaned us five of their U1E ultraportable systems, and while we've struggled with slow internet access (Ed: It seems a few hundred thousand others think they need access to the internet as well…), we've been very pleased overall with the user experience the U1E offers. Specifically, it offers a very small and easy to carry device that provides a reasonable keyboard - much better than the too-tiny Eee PC's keyboard - and perhaps most importantly we've been getting over five hours of battery life. It also comes with a convenient suede carrying case and a Bluetooth wireless mouse. But the U1E is yesterday's news, so let's talk a bit about the new ASUS laptop offerings.
The U1E now has a younger sibling that's getting all the attention, the U2E. The glossy exterior is gone, replaced by a much more fingerprint resistant leather surface. The U2E also comes with 32GB of solid state storage, along with the other features present on the U1E like a fingerprint scanner, TPM, 11.1" LCD (1366x768), LED backlighting, 1.5GB RAM, and a webcam. Pricing for the U1E starts at around $2100, and we would expect the U2E to cost even more, but if you want an alternative to the Dell, HP, and Apple laptops everyone else uses and if you like the leather palm rest and exterior, the U2E (and the U1E) are worth a close look. The 1.8" HDD and Core 2 Duo U7500 (1.06GHz) definitely won't set any speed records, but there are many times where battery life trumps raw performance. Black and brown leather coverings are available (and possibly others as well).
ASUS laptops run the gamut from the ultra-expensive Lamborghini model with gold or platinum highlights (yes, real gold or platinum!) through the most powerful gaming laptop ASUS has ever released, the G70 with 8700M GT SLI. The G70 also includes dual HDD drive bays (2x200GB) and a Penryn-based laptop CPU; while the G70 does include a 17" WUXGA LCD, this is not your typical 17" chassis; this is by far the largest 17" chassis we've seen, with a lot of extra space around the borders of the display and keyboard. Other new laptop models include systems with Mobility Radeon HD3650 and GeForce 9500M GS, and the M50 and M70 multimedia models are now available with two Hitachi 500GB 2.5" drives, providing the potential for up to 1TB of total storage. Then there's the updated Eee PC that's in the works with integrated WiMAX support, more storage, and a larger LCD.
Chances are, if you need a new notebook, ASUS has something that will meet your requirements. Note that all of the ASUS laptops (other than the Eee PC) come with a two year warranty with overnight shipping and a zero bright dot LCD guarantee.