At last: an ultraportable notebook that’s not underpowered!

April 11th, 2010 in .Tech
Nick Holland

I have an ultraportable notebook. In fact, I’m typing on it right now: it’s a Dell Inspiron 1370. I like it; it has oodles of battery life while delivering better performance than a netbook. The GMA 4500MHD graphics accelerate h.264 video, which is ideal for late night movie watching in bed, but as you’d expect gaming is limited at best.

The thing is, I still find myself yearning for more, but I don’t want to have to lose the 12-13” slim form factor because it’s easy to throw in my bag and head out to my next meeting. My girlfriend has an ASUS S101, which, while gorgeous, in its tiny 10” netbook form factor is ultimately a frustrating experience because of the consistent waiting (and Windows XP).

When ASUS launched the UL50Vf in conjunction with Nvidia’s Optimus switchable graphics technology, it was the world’s first official Optimus product, but it just didn’t tempt me. Don’t get me wrong, I think Nvidia Optimus is the best thing to happen to notebooks in a long time, and while the Nvidia GeForce G210M graphics card in there, it was still the same Core 2 Duo SU7300 powering the 15” device that I have in my Dell notebook here. Also, it’s, uh, far too black-plasticy for my liking.

The ASUS U30Jc on the other hand, well, I’m already seeing how much I can ebay my Dell for. Its more portable 13” form factor is not the main attraction though; it’s the meatier Core i3 350M with faster 2.26GHz core clocks AND HyperThreading that considerably perks my interest. So not only is that twice the clock speed to play with versus the SU7300 CPU, there are “four” cores to do more work as well. The Nvidia Geforce 310M is only a 30MHz upgrade from the 210M in the UL50Vf though, but on the upside, compared to other ultraportables, the Optimus technology means not only the full battery life, but cooler running, better gaming, full Adobe Flash 10.1 GPU acceleration and support for CUDA-based transcoding applications.

Plus – and this is big one for our trend conscious, style setting readers – it looks fantastic. With a black “Chiclet Wide Spaced” keyboard and a brushed aluminum enclosure it’s so tasty I want to lick it.

I want to – no – need to call Asus for a sample, but I fear my marketing friends will ask for it back. Not because I’ll refuse to return it, but honestly I doubt it’s warrantied against teeth marks.

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