Good performance and a bling trackpad differentiate the Asus U80V 14in-screen laptop.

The Asus U80V is an all-purpose notebook with some visual surprises under the bonnet, including a touch-sensitive LED trackpad (altogether now: ‘Ooooooh! Ahhhhhh!'). The Asus U80V offers a good range of components and will run day-to-day applications without a hitch; it's also powerful enough for HD video editing and occasional bouts of 3D gaming.

On the downside, the Asus U80V isn't the most visually appealing notebook on the market, despite that funky touchpad. Nevertheless, the Asus U80V remains a good performer overall.

The Asus U80V laptop seems destined to receive some glowing reviews from the press, if only for the pun opportunities. In addition to a backlit keyboard and LCD light sensor, the Asus U80V sports a glowing trackpad peppered with touch-sensitive LEDs. These tiny lights follow your fingertip's movements around the pad, which gives the device a futuristic feel.

As superfluous features go, it's up there with the musk-scented Asus F6V-3P182E or the flowery styling of the HP Vivienne Tam. In other words, they can be seen as pointless but fun gimmicks.

The Asus U80V's glowing keyboard is a considerably more practical affair, with three levels of brightness to choose from. The 14in display also has an inbuilt sensor that automatically adjusts the brightness level to suit the current environment. If you regularly surf the web in the dark, you'll appreciate this feature in the Asus U80V.

Yet, despite these details, the Asus U80V is a rather plain notebook overall. Asus has opted for a plain - if glossy - black finish that we shall charitably describe as ‘traditional'. The design is at odds with the funky LED touchpad, which feels like it belongs on a different notebook altogether. This ironically makes the Asus U80V even less cool - a bit like your dad wearing a back-to-front baseball cap.

Confused aesthetics aside, the Asus U80V managed to impress us where it counts. The keyboard is spacious and tactile, while the 1366x768 LCD produces crisp images with good viewing angles. Reflections proved to be problematic, but this is something almost all gloss-screen notebooks suffer from.

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The Altec Lansing speakers of the Asus U80V are suitably bombastic by notebook standards, though you'll need to invest in a pair of headphones for especially noisy environments. That said, the Asus U80V remains a good entertainment notebook for music and movie playback, with the 500GB hard drive (5400rpm) offering plenty of room for media storage.

The version of the Asus U80V we tested came with an Intel Core 2 Duo T9400 processor running at 2.53GHz, 2GB of DDR2 RAM, along with an ATI Radeon HD 4570 graphics card with 512MB video RAM. These are pretty standard specifications for a notebook in this price range, though its performance in our benchmarks was impressive nonetheless.

In our WorldBench 6 application suite, the Asus U80V received a total score of 96: a solid result for a compact notebook. This means the Asus U80V will be able to handle most processing tasks quickly and efficiently.

The inclusion of a dedicated ATI graphics adaptor helps boost the Asus U80V's gaming and 3D rendering credentials. In 3D Mark 06 and 3D Mark Vantage it returned a score of 3238 and P4203, respectively. These results stack up favourably against the U80V's competition (the MSI PX600 received a 3D Mark 06 score of just 1525, for example). While you may struggle to run the latest DirectX 10 action games, you're unlikely to get a better performance in this price range.

The Asus U80V comes with a standard suite of connections, comprising three USB ports, a VGA output, a multi-card reader, a 34mm ExpressCard slot, a microphone and headphone jack, ethernet and HDMI out (eSATA is the only notable omission).

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Asus U80V: Specs

  • 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9400
  • 14in (1366x768) 16:9 LED-backlit glossy LCD display
  • Microsoft Windows Vista
  • 500GB 2.5in 5400rpm SATA HDD
  • 4GB (2x2GB) DDR2 RAM
  • ATI Radeon HD 4570 with 512MB RAM
  • HDMI, VGA
  • DVD Super Multi drive
  • 3 x USB 2.0
  • gigabit ethernet
  • 802.11b/g/draft-n
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • multi-card reader
  • ExpressCard 34
  • mic-in, headphone-out
  • stereo speakers
  • webcam
  • 351x243x22-32mm
  • 2.15kg
  • 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9400
  • 14in (1366x768) 16:9 LED-backlit glossy LCD display
  • Microsoft Windows Vista
  • 500GB 2.5in 5400rpm SATA HDD
  • 4GB (2x2GB) DDR2 RAM
  • ATI Radeon HD 4570 with 512MB RAM
  • HDMI, VGA
  • DVD Super Multi drive
  • 3 x USB 2.0
  • gigabit ethernet
  • 802.11b/g/draft-n
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • multi-card reader
  • ExpressCard 34
  • mic-in, headphone-out
  • stereo speakers
  • webcam
  • 351x243x22-32mm
  • 2.15kg

OUR VERDICT

The Asus U80V is an above-average all-purpose notebook with some interesting bells and whistles up its sleeve. It provides a solid performance, but its ultimate worthiness will depend on the UK retail price.

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