The Asus U2E is a fun, stylish ultraportable 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 the Asus U2E beyond its style.

To begin with, the Asus U2E weighs just 1.25kg. It has a brilliant 1366-x-768-pixel, 11in widescreen display.

Like Sony's VAIO VGN-TZ295N ultraportable, the Asus U2E's screen is easy to view in tight spaces, although it lacks LED backlighting. The Asus U2E isn't as complete a package as the VAIO, but it is much cheaper, at a reasonable (for an ultraportable) £1,394 inc VAT.

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The Asus U2E's WorldBench 6 real-world speed 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 the Asus U2E 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 ultraportables 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 Asus U2E's 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 Asus U2E's buttons had so much give, we were afraid they would break.

The Asus U2E 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.

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Asus U2E: Specs

  • Intel U7500 Core 2 Duo
  • 4GB DDR II SDRAM
  • Microsoft Windows Vista Business
  • Intel GMA X3100 graphics
  • 1366-x-768-pixel, 11in widescreen display
  • 32GB SSD hard drive
  • DVD±RW (+R double layer) / DVD-RAM
  • 802.11 a/b/g/n (draft), Bluetooth
  • 194x29x277mm
  • 1.25kg
  • Intel U7500 Core 2 Duo
  • 4GB DDR II SDRAM
  • Microsoft Windows Vista Business
  • Intel GMA X3100 graphics
  • 1366-x-768-pixel, 11in widescreen display
  • 32GB SSD hard drive
  • DVD±RW (+R double layer) / DVD-RAM
  • 802.11 a/b/g/n (draft), Bluetooth
  • 194x29x277mm
  • 1.25kg

OUR VERDICT

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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