Asus U35JC review
Weighing less than 2kg, the Asus U35JC is a typical ultra-portable, forgoing an optical drive for a slimmer profile, and at 25mm thick it's one of the slimmest laptops you can get. However Asus has opted for a full-fat Core i3 370M processor rather than one of the new CULV chips, so we were amazed when it lasted for almost 10 hours in our light-use battery test.
This is mainly thanks to Nvidia's Optimus technology, which automatically switches between the integrated graphics on the Core i3 processor and the dedicated Nvidia GeForce 310M chip. It's not clear how the technology decides whether you need the power of the dedicated chip or the power-saving of the integrated chip, but it's possible to manually choose one or the other.
With the dedicated graphics chip enabled, the U35JC posted a score of 14fps in our Call of Duty 4 test. This isn't fast enough to play the latest 3D games, but it can handle older games and online games which are less graphics-intensive. With Nvidia's CUDA technology you will also benefit from GPU acceleration in applications which support it, such as the latest version of Photoshop.
There's an attractive brushed-metal finish on the lid, while the keyboard panel has a subtle checked pattern. The keyboard has a bit of flex, but not enough to affect typing; the keys have a light, crisp action which provides plenty of feedback for touch-typists, and the keyboard's layout is fairly standard.
The responsive touchpad is a decent size but doesn't support common multi-touch gestures. The single see-saw button has a light enough action, but it's set too flush with the case, so you have to bend your thumb over the edge of the case to press it.
A 320GB hard disk provides ample storage for your documents, and there are three USB ports for connecting peripherals such as external storage. Bluetooth and 802.11n support cater for wireless networking, and there are both VGA and HDMI video outputs.
The internal speakers have a surprisingly clear sound with decent stereo separation, but bass is lacking and they aren't loud enough to fill a room. If you really want the full home cinema experience, you'll want to connect via HDMI to an external AV amplifier. The 1,366x768 screen is good for watching 720p content; however its glossy finish and tight vertical viewing angles mean you'll have to adjust it carefully to get an accurate picture.
The U35JC's Optimus technology certainly helps improve battery life, but the GeForce 310M isn't quite up to playing the latest 3D games. While battery life and performance are amazing for a laptop this size, it's more expensive than the Acer Aspire 4820T, which includes an optical drive and weighs only 30g more. If you don't need the graphics power, the Acer is the better buy, and pips the U35JC to an award.
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