With a shiny black lid and real leather wrist rest, the £1,399 Asus U1F puts the "ultra" in ultraportable. The lightest Windows Vista laptop we've reviewed, the Asus U1F was a dream to review on the move as it weighs just over 1kg.

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The thin case offers a surprisingly full set of connections, including built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless communications. You could use the bright screen to find your way out of a cave, and the battery lasts for more than six hours on one charge. These are good qualities for an all-day, on-the-go laptop to possess. But can you type on it?

All the keys look big enough and are in the right places - but alas, the right Shift key sits on the right side instead of left side of the up arrow key, dooming touch typists to jump up a line in the document every time they try to use their right hand to capitalise a letter.

Astonishingly bright and easy to view indoors or out, the U1F's LED-backlit screen measures 11.1in, making it a little easier to read than the 10.6in LED-backlit display of the Fujitsu LifeBook P7230. The U1F also has the edge over the P7230 in performance and battery life. Although equipped with a slower processor (a 1.06GHz Core Duo U2400), the U1F parlayed its 1536MB of memory into a WorldBench 6 Beta 2 real-world speed score of 39, about 17 percent higher than the P7230's score of 32.

Since the U1F has no internal bay, you'll have to pack an external drive if you plan on playing a disc while on the road.

The U1F doesn't want for ports, slots, or connections. Its thin case sports an SD slot, two USB ports, a FireWire port, a Wi-Fi switch, network and modem jacks and a spring-loaded ExpressCard slot on the right.

A third USB port sits on the left of the case, alongside a monitor port and basic audio ports (including headphones and microphone ports). The laptop even has a basic integrated 1.3Mp webcam and a small fingerprint reader window that worked fine.

The U1F has a sturdy case, and its 4,200rpm 80GB hard drive is shock-mounted on foam railings. To upgrade the RAM you'll have to throw away a 1GB chunk of existing memory - the entire amount available in the small bottom compartment (an additional 512MB is built into the motherboard), but at least you have the option to expand the amount of system memory.

Asus U1F: Specs

  • Intel Core Duo U2400 1.06GHz
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 1GB RAM (2GB max)
  • 60MB hard drive
  • DVD writer (4x/2.4x/4x/2x/2.4x DVD+R/+RW-R-RW+R DL), CD writer (24x/10x CD-R/-RW)
  • Intel 945GMS graphics card
  • 11.1in, 1,366x768 display
  • 276x190x24mm, 1kg
  • 2-year collect and return warranty
  • Intel Core Duo U2400 1.06GHz
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 1GB RAM (2GB max)
  • 60MB hard drive
  • DVD writer (4x/2.4x/4x/2x/2.4x DVD+R/+RW-R-RW+R DL), CD writer (24x/10x CD-R/-RW)
  • Intel 945GMS graphics card
  • 11.1in, 1,366x768 display
  • 276x190x24mm, 1kg
  • 2-year collect and return warranty

OUR VERDICT

This ultraportable has lots of appeal: lightest weight, most stylish exterior, six-hour battery life, and a good screen. But sluggish performance and the absence of a built-in optical drive hold it back.

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