Asus UL50AG review

31 Dec 2009

A slimline desktop replacement with a mighty battery life, the UL50 could be the laptop you've been waiting for.

Price when reviewed 
650
4

The phrase “slimline desktop replacement” may sound like an oxymoron, but the Asus UL50 is just that. Asus has squeezed a 15.6in display into a chassis that stands just 31mm high, and weighs a modest 2.41kg.

From the moment you lay eyes on it, it’s clear the UL50 wants to go toe to toe with the Acer Aspire Timeline 5810T. Both have brushed-aluminium effect lids and sleek good-looks, but the Asus complements this with gloss-black innards. It’s one good-looking laptop.

The UL50 isn’t as sturdy as a traditional desktop replacement, but it isn’t far off. There’s little give in the slim base, but the lid is more flexible.

Asus UL50AG

Despite its slim figure, though, the UL50 has all the features of a proper desktop replacement. There’s a DVD writer, a 500GB hard disk, 802.11n wireless and Bluetooth, and an LED-backlit panel.

And although its dimensions make it significantly bulkier than any ultraportable, battery life is right up with the longest-lasting models on the market. We recorded just less than 11 hours of life in our light-use test, and more than four hours of heavy use; a mighty achievement by any standards.

That longevity does come with some compromises, however. The low-voltage processor runs at just 1.3GHz – a whisker behind that of the carbon-copy Acer – and despite 4GB of DDR2 memory, it achieved a score of only 0.66 in our benchmarks. Entertainment potential is similarly limited by the Intel integrated graphics, which provided unplayable frame rates in our Crysis tests.

The Scrabble-tile keyboard isn’t too shabby, and although some may dislike the short-travel keys and the soft action, the wide, spacious layout lets touch-typists get right up to speed. The oddly dimpled trackpad, although reliable, is more of an acquired taste.

As long as you aren’t seeking a gaming goliath, the UL50 has much to offer. It’s both attractive and blessed with some genuine all-round ability.

The big question is whether a 15.6in laptop can remain usable with such little raw power, but if your needs are undemanding – and superb battery life is more important to you than ultimate performance – this is a fine choice.

Details

Price ex VAT £565
Price inc VAT £650
Overall rating 4
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 4
Performance 2

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 387 x 257 x 31mm (WDH)
Weight 2.410kg
Travelling weight 2.9kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300
Motherboard chipset Intel GS45
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR2
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 15.6in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
Graphics chipset Intel GMA4500MHD
Graphics card RAM 32MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 500GB
Hard disk usable capacity 466GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Seagate ST950032AS
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Optical drive TSSTcorp TS-U633A
Battery capacity 5,600mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 3
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 1
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader yes
MMC (multimedia card) reader yes
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad
Audio chipset Realtek HD Audio
Speaker location Front edge
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 0.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 10hr 49min
Battery life, heavy use 4hr 1min
Overall application benchmark score 0.66
3D performance (crysis) low settings 5fps
3D performance setting Low

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery disc