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For those of you who are regular readers of my posts, you know that I’ve waxed poetic about the ASUS UL30vt a few times. Those mentions generated a lot of questions, so I wanted to dig a little deeper into the machine that I said I loved so much, I felt like I was cheating on my wife.
The ASUS UL series comes in 4 sizes, the 12” UL20vt, the 13” UL30vt that I’m reviewing today, the 14” UL80vt, and the 15” UL50vt. Their name comes from Asus’ declaration that with these laptops, you have UnLimited possibilities (get it?), and with the features, battery life, design and price that these PCs pack, they’re telling the truth.
The thing I love most about the Asus UL30vt is its breakthrough battery life. ASUS touts up to 12 hours of battery life, and I can tell you from real-world, everyday use for more than a month, that figure isn’t marketing BS. After I unplug from a full charge I often get 10-11 hours of hard use out of my UL30vt – more than enough to outlast an average work day. That’s head-and-shoulders above most laptops and good enough that I’ve been able to take it to 3 days’ worth of meetings between charges.
Typically, if you’re getting massive battery life it’s at the sake of power (think netbooks – they get great battery life, but they’re not nearly as powerful as a “traditional” laptop.) That’s not the case for the Ul30vt. Under the hood is a Core2Duo ULV processor (an SU7300), 4GB of DDR3 RAM, and a huge 500GB HDD. The UL30vt also features switchable graphics which goes a long way towards optimizing for peak performance or stretching battery life. ASUS’ “Power4Gear Hybrid” utility automatically toggles between Intel HD Integrated Graphics a dedicated NVIDIA® GeForce® G210M graphics card, which while not the highest-end NVIDIA notebook GPU is more than powerful enough to play mid-range games and watch HD video. There’s a button to switch manually between the two, and of course you can configure your power settings to work off either GPU depending on the circumstances. I set up mine to always work on integrated graphics since I use the UL30 as a travel machine, and as such am primarily concerned with staying up and running for as long as possible.
ASUS didn’t skimp on industrial design either. All UL models are available in a brushed silver or black aluminum finish, feature a multi-touch trackpad, and an island keyboard. The display puts out a standard 1366 x 766 with a ultra-glossy finish. And I do mean ultra-glossy – it’s brilliant in an office, but can be a bit hard to read in bright light. Weight is good at 4.6lbs, so it’s a breeze to carry around in my brand new medium Timbuk2 custom laptop messenger (note the colorful addition by my 20-month-old daughter/budding artist, Audrey).
If you’re shopping for an ASUS UL30vt, it’s priced VERY reasonably – I’ve seen them as low as $693 online. That’s a pretty low price for a machine of this caliber.
As I said before, I love my UL30vt – although I am currently having a pretty intense fling with my Sony VAIO Z – and highly recommend it if you’re in the market for a machine that will keep you running all day long.
Have a question about this or any other PC? Post a comment, hit me on Twitter, or Ask Ben Anything via email. Your question might appear in my monthly Ask Ben Anything Q&A column!
I have an uncle who's looking for a good machine; this looks like it fits the bill nicely. Thanks for the tip.
12 hrs of bat is nice... but I would take an HP Envy 14 over it :P I have an envy 15 and I have a sad 2 hours :( I could get the slice battery but it is 100 bucks and adds 4 lbs. Oh well, I love my envy :D
Intel X4500HD, not Intel HD. Big difference, and the latter's integrated in Core i# only.
1366 by 768, not 766, and not 760 as the OS displays.
Dual 1.3/no HT is nothing to sneeze at. Plenty is sacrificed here for those who consider portability #1, such as for only getting online, which while great, doesn't encapsulate the general use of a PC, for which a full-powered processor may be more practical ("hurry up and wait").
I see a lot of OEMs using these crippled 7300's/4100's in a price/performance compromise -- the SU9600 is 300MHz faster and has all 6 megs of L2 for the same TDP (10W). One may also consider the ULV i5 which integrates actual Intel HD graphics with memory controller, PCIE controller, and turbos to 1.73 on both cores or 2.00 on one, all using 18W tops.
I do like the concept; just wish the choice of components were a little more sensible, as most seeking maximum portability are willing to invest a little more into it with the expectation that they're getting this year's low-voltage performance and not that of 3 years ago.
I'd really like one of these, too. Like James, my laptop only has about 2 hours battery life and I can't really afford to buy the battery myself, because I'm a student :/
Use this laptop too, incredible battery life, thin and light at 3.7lbs.
Never carries my charger around, another weight saver.
No HT since SU7300 based on non nehalem core architecture. Hyper threading can be good for some application but not your average everyday apps. You can read a discussion here:
The use of SU7300 gives advantage on battery life, you should get better performance while plugged in to the electricity with Asus Turbo33 overclock technology cranked the speed to the same performance level of SU9600.
For HD movie decoding, there's very little difference between Intel HD on Core i series and X4500HD, you can compare here.
With switchable nVidia Geforce G210M you can easily grasp powerful HD decoding, or you can even play some 3D games, you can also get HD encoding acceleration with nVidia CUDA technology by using supporting software,
The new model for this laptop is UL30JC with Core i3 and G310M with optimus (on the fly) graphics switching technology, it comes with internal optical drive makes it heavier at 4.8pounds. The use of non ULV processor reduce battery life to max 8 hours.