Asus U2E ultra-portable laptop

Go on, run your hands along the Asus U2E’s leather-trim exterior. This ultraportable laptop’s luxurious cladding and long list of extras will make you feel like you’re handling premium gear. But we found other things to like about it beyond its style.

To begin with, the U2E weighs just 2.8 pounds, and its traveling weight (with AC adapter) is only 3.5 pounds. It has a brilliant 1366-by-768-pixel wide-screen display. Like Sony’s VAIO VGN-TZ295N ultra-portable, the screen is easy to view in tight spaces, though it lacks LED backlighting. The U2E isn’t as complete a package as the VAIO, but it is much cheaper, at a reasonable (for an ultra-portable) $1999.

The U2E’s WorldBench 6 score of 53 put it in the middle of the pack among ultraportable notebooks we reviewed at the same time, but it’s still pretty slow for notebooks in general. What saved this machine in our rankings was its endurance in our battery tests–a whopping 7 hours, 11 minutes with the larger of its two included batteries. That’s more than 50 percent longer than the average battery life of the ultra-portables we’ve tested.

The keyboard had to be shrunk down some to squeeze into the tiny form factor, but it’s still quite serviceable. The keys are wide enough for most hands and have a decent enough pitch or slope.

The mouse buttons didn’t make as good an impression. It wasn’t that the buttons are jammed together into a small space, making their use difficult for heavy-handed mousers (many laptop makers are guilty of this design crime); rather, it was that they felt cheap. The buttons had so much give, I was afraid they would break.

The notebook has a Webcam, a fingerprint scanner, and an HDMI port for connecting to a television or to one of the few PC monitors that use that kind of connection.

The Asus U2E is a fun, stylish notebook, and its cowhide couture is bound to turn some heads, though perhaps not those of die-hard Apple fans.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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