Asus UL20A review

3 May 2010

Compact size, mammoth battery life and decent performance for the low price

Price when reviewed 
470
5

Netbooks have had their time in the limelight, but with the likes of Asus's UL20A on the market, their days look to be numbered. Combining stamina and ultraportable dimensions with more power than any netbook can muster, Asus' latest should tempt cash-strapped buyers to spend that bit more.

Despite costing just £400 exc VAT, the UL20A is a classy little number. The brushed-aluminium lid adds a dash of style, with the silver finish spreading inside and contrasting nicely with the black Scrabble-tile keyboard and glossy black screen bezel.

Asus UL20A

Build quality hasn't suffered: the UL20A feels solid and flex-free, and the rigid, slimline lid does a good job of protecting the 12.1in TFT from harm. It's comfortable too. The keyboard is excellent, with a firm, unyielding base and crisp key action. The layout works, with the Home cluster of keys rearranged and tucked out of the way on the right-hand side. In fact, the only minor moan comes courtesy of the single, rocker-style button beneath the trackpad; it might look good, but we much prefer individual buttons.

Those looking for a laptop they can carry around day-in day-out will find more than enough to love. At just 1.53kg, the Asus is light enough to sling in a bag for a regular commute and, thanks to the 12.1in display, it's appreciably smaller than the herd of 13.3in CULV laptops dominating this category.

Once you start using the UL20A, its appeal really comes to the fore. The Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 hops along at a modest 1.3GHz, but the two cores are enough to keep Windows 7 feeling snappy enough for most tasks. A benchmark score of 0.67 underlines its capabilities - it isn't lightning-quick by laptop measures, but it's twice as powerful as your average netbook.

Details

Price ex VAT £400
Price inc VAT £470
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 5
Performance 4

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 298 x 225 x 29mm (WDH)
Weight 1.530kg
Travelling weight 1.8kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300
RAM capacity 3.00GB
Memory type DDR2
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 12.1in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
Graphics chipset Intel GMA 4500M
Graphics card RAM 32MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 0
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 320GB
Hard disk usable capacity 298GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Seagate ST9320325AS
Optical disc technology N/A
Optical drive none
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 100Mbits/sec
802.11a support no
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support no

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
FireWire ports 0
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
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 yes
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 9hr 5min
Battery life, heavy use 3hr 25min
Overall application benchmark score 0.67
Office application benchmark score 0.69
2D graphics application benchmark score 0.80
Encoding application benchmark score 0.62
Multitasking application benchmark score 0.58
3D performance (crysis) low settings N/A
3D performance setting N/A

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery partition
Software supplied N/A