Laptops are quickly becoming the most popular computer form factor. Because of this every company under the sun has started making their own in order to take advantage of the demand. Asus is one of those companies and while they are relatively new to the laptop market they are not new to computers. Asus is very well know and has long been a leader in manufacturing Motherboards. We are going to see if they can also be a leader in making laptops as well.
- Intel Core2 Duo Processor P8400 2.26 GHz
- 12.1″ WXGA backlight LED with 1280×800 Resolution
- 256MB NVIDIA GeForce 9400M GS
- 4GB DDR2 800MHz
- Windows Vista Business
- 0.3 Mega Pixel web camera
- 8 in 1 card reader
Having a powerful yet efficient processor is very important for a laptop, in order to conserve battery power. The Intel P8400 processor is a great processor for a laptop because it not only runs at 2.26 Ghz, but it is also battery friendly. The P8400 has a manufacturing size of 45 nm and only uses 25 Watts of power. This processor also uses SpeedStep technology which can lower or raise the speed and power usage in order to manage energy effeciency.
The 12.1″ screen is LED backlit with a resolution of 1280×800. The screen is a Color-Shine (Glare-type), and Crystal-Shine (High brightness) LCD, and it also uses Asus Splendid Video Intelligent Technology. There is lots of room on both sides and on the top and bottom of the screen and I would like to see it just a little bigger. I am also not a fan of glossy screens. The Splendid technology allows the screen to be adjusted to suit different situations. Opening the software gives you options like Normal, Gamma, Vivid, Theater, Soft, and My Profile. The My profile option allows you to set up your own specifications and then quickly access them.
The graphics chip that powers the LCD is a 256MB GeForce 9400M. The M indicates that it is a mobile chip, which is great because it is very low power. The 256MB of dedicated memory gives it a great boost in the performance area.
The Asus U6V comes with a full 4GB of RAM, but it only has a 32-bit operating system. This means that you probably won’t be able to take full advantage of all 4GB of RAM.
This laptop runs Windows Vista Business 32-bit. This is great if you need the business friendly features that are included. As for me I prefer Home Premium because it has Media Center. With features like HDMI, and a very nice screen this laptop is perfect for applications like Media Center.
There is a built-in 0.3 Mega Pixel web camera on top of the screen. This is useful for web conferencing and video chatting.
Expandability is also very important. The 8 in 1 card reader that comes with this laptop is great for pulling up pictures, sharing documents with others and many more things.
The very large 320GB hard drive is big and nice for storing all your media files while you are on the go; however, because it is only a 5400 RPM drive the performance is less than most desktop drives.
The Asus U6V is very compact, but makes good use of all of the space. On the left side of the laptop, starting in the front, is the Wireless switch, an HDMI port, 2 – USB ports, an E-SATA port, above the HDMI port is an Express card slot, and at the very back there is the power plug. Honestly this is the first laptop that I have seen with with an HDMI or E-SATA port. These are both great technologies, but are usually left off of laptops because of space or power requirement.
The right side of the Asus U6V has an SD card slot, DVD drive, Headphone and Microphone plugs, a USB slot and a spot for a lock.
On the back there is a gigabit Ethernet and Modem plug on the left side and a VGA port on the right, in the middle is the battery. If you are using the 6-cell battery you will notice that it sticks out quite a bit.
The bottom has two removable panels, the left one covers the hard drive and the right one covers the memory and the CPU, heatsink and fan. Since you will never be replacing the CPU, heatsink or fan it would have been a little better if these remained hidden and not exposed so easily.
On the inside of the Asus U6V we get a mostly full size keyboard and a touchpad with a fingerprint reader. The area below the keyboard and around the touchpad is wrapped in a leather cover. I am not a fan of the brown color, but I do like the feel of the leather. There is one thing about the touchpad that I do not like and it is the buttons. While they look normal, when you go to press them you discover something entirely different, only the bottom of the button is clickable. This may not seem like a big deal, and it probably isn’t, but it bugs me every time I use them. I am having to retrain myself to only click on the bottom part of the buttons, rather than in the middle. Also, having the fingerprint reader right in the middle has caused frustration. More than once I have reached over with my thumb to click on one of the touchpad buttons and instead landed right on the reader. Since I have only needed to use the reader to log in, I would not complain if it were moved off to the side where it would be out of the way.
Above the keyboard is a power button on the right side. On the left side are two more buttons, one for launching Lifeframe 3 (which powers the webcam and lets you take snapshots and videos), and the other is for Power4Gear which switches between performance modes. The modes that are available are Entertainment, Quiet Office, Battery Saving, and High Performance.
The screen on the Asus U6V, which is 12.1″, is mounted inside a very thin lid. The lid is much thinner than most other laptops and it does bend quite a bit. So care must be taken with opening the lid. Using the handle that is mounted to the middle of the lid is the best option.
The whole laptop comes packaged in a rather interesting box. The box is made of out of a stiff cardboard or thin wood and wrapped in textured paper. The lid is held down by a magnetic clasp and the inside is covered in velvet. I don’t know if this is how all the Asus retail laptops are packaged, but it is a bit overboard in my opinion.
Performance on a laptop takes several different forms. First the Asus U6V needs to run all your programs and raw performance is the best for this. As you can see from the performance screen from Vista, the laptop scores fairly high in Processor, Hard Drive and Memory. The Places it suffers is in graphics, both desktop and gaming.
I also ran some benchmarks that test the real world performance of the laptop. SYSmark 2007 runs lots of different programs like Adobe Creative Suite and Microsoft Office. According to SYSmark 2007 the Asus U6V laptop got an average score of 116.
I also decided to run PCMark05 and 3DMark06 because many people are familiar with them. The results I got on the Asus U6V laptop were not too bad. If I left the resolution at 1280 x 800 3DMark06 produced a score of 1628. If I lowered the resolution to 1024×768 the score went up to 1850. These number are good for a laptop this size and indicate that this computer could handle some casual gaming.
Raw power is not the only thing that determines performance. Laptops will eventually be run on battery power. So it is important see just how long it will last. The Asus U6V laptop includes both a large 6-cell 4800 mAh battery, and small 3-cell 2400 mAh battery. The 6-cell battery lasts about 3 hours 35 minutes and the 3-cell battery lasts about 1 hour 37 minutes. I tested this using MobileMark 2007. This test is just like SYSmark and it uses the same programs, except this time it only runs when the laptop is not plugged in. While 3 hours may seem like a lot, many laptops this size offer batteries that last as long as 6 hours.
The audio performance on the Asus U6V is lacking quite a bit. While it gets loud enough for personal use, if you find yourself in a crowded and noisy room you are going to have a hard time hearing anything. Even in a quiet room the sound quality is not all that great. I would equate it to the sound you get from speakers built-in to a small MP3 player. This is nothing new for laptops and I always recommend headphones with laptops.
The screen on the other hand is very nice to look at, as long as you are not outside. I have long complained about glossy screens because they are only good inside and facing away from windows. The colors and brightness are great and if it weren’t for the glossy screen this would make a great outside laptop.
The web camera on the Asus U6V laptop is not the best I have seen. At only 0.3 Mega Pixels it is on the low end. The colors are also quite dim and if you don’t have a lot of light the whole picture looks like you are in a dark room. However, the face tracking and recognition is fantastic. The Liteframe 3 software that comes with the laptop as some fun special effects that let you ad funny faces to the video on the screen. As I moved about or as more people came into view more funny faces were added and tracked successfully.
The web camera is not just good for making funny faces. One of the pieces of software that comes with the U6V is called SmartLogon and it has facial recognition built-in. With this software we were able to take a snapshot of several faces and link them to an account. Then when we logged in we didn’t have to type a password or even swipe our finger, we just let the camera do the hard work for us.
The laptop comes with a warranty that covers the hardware for 2 years, and the battery for one year. In addition it has 1 year accidental damage coverage, and a 30-day LCD protection against dead pixels. To get support for this laptop you have access to 24/7 toll-free tech support.
Overall I am impressed with the laptop. There are some quirks, but what computer doesn’t have quirks? I really like the fact that this laptop comes with both a 3-cell and a 6-cell battery, it would be great to have an easy way to swap them without having to turn off the laptop. The retail price for this machine is $1499, but by looking around I was able to find this laptop online for less. I personally look for ultraportable laptops that are under $1000, but at the same time I usually have to settle for a less powerful machine. If you need the power that this laptop offers and you have the money to spend I can highly recommend it to you.
|JusTech'n editors' rating|