Asus's fashionable Asus U6V ultraportable gives you good performance - and a second battery - without breaking the bank.

If you're looking for a speedy ultraportable laptop without breaking the bank, look no further than the Asus U6V-A1. This Windows Vista Business-based notebook offers up strong performance scores and is a nicely balanced overall system.

Powered by a 2.26GHz Core 2 Duo, 4GB of memory, and an nVidia GeForce 9300M GS integrated graphics chip, the Asus U6V exhibits excellent performance compared with other ultraportables, earning a WorldBench 6 score of 93.

The Asus U6V held its own on the gaming front, garnering 38 frames per second in Doom 3 and 68 fps in Far Cry (1024-by-768 resolution with antialiasing turned off). Those framerates may not sound so hot, but ultraportables rarely rise above mediocre game performance.

Compared with others in this class, the Asus U6V trounces lesser machines that offer only weak-sauce integrated graphics chips (ahem, Intel) and puts up a decent fight against most of its competition. In fact, it's a hair faster than Lenovo's ThinkPad X200.

The Asus U6V comes equipped with a 320GB hard drive - plenty roomy for all your media. But grab a good set of headphones or external speakers to go with it; the U6V has only a crummy speaker, with poor volume and all the sound quality of an alarm clock radio.

That said, the 12.1in 1,280x800 glossy widescreen display is bright, crisp, and evenly lit - what you put on the screen will look great indoors and still hold up decently outside.

By and large the Asus U6V is an attractive, nicely designed notebook with some higher-end touches such as a leather palmrest. The keyboard feels firm, but the keys on the edges are smaller than usual to make room for the Home, End, Page Up, and Page Down keys along the keyboard's righthand side; while not a big deal, you may have to adjust your typing-muscle memory a little.

The trackpad is a bit small, but usable; the buttons, though, can be awkward to use, since they're not very large (thanks to the fingerprint reader between the left and right buttons) and can be difficult to press. Good thing our review unit includes an external Bluetooth mouse (we were certainly tempted to use it).

The Asus U6V includes three USB ports, with ports on both sides of the notebook for easy mousing. Also included are eSATA, HDMI, and VGA ports, an ExpressCard/34 slot, gigabit ethernet, and a built-in webcam. The hard drive and memory modules are easily accessed by removing their covers on the bottom of the unit.

The Asus U6V weighs in at 1.6kg with the 6-cell lithium ion battery - about average for an ultraportable - but add another 400g if you want to lug around the power adaptor.

You'll need it: the Asus U6V's included 6-cell battery achieved 3 hours, 29 minutes of running life in our Test Centre evaluation. While this is about average for a typical all-purpose laptop, it's on the lower end of the spectrum for ultraportables. Some machines we've tested have lasted upwards of 6 hours.

However, the Asus U6V does include an extra 3-cell battery - a nice touch considering that most other PC makers would make this an extra-cost option.

ExpressGate - Asus's preboot interface for performing basic tasks - makes an appearance on the Asus U6V. Press a button on the notebook, and within seconds you'll have access to a web browser, Skype, a photo viewer, and more, in case you don't want to deal with Windows.

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Asus U6V: Specs

  • Intel Core 2 Duo Processor T9400/P8600/P8400: 2.53GHz-2.26GHz, 1066MHz, 6/3MB On-Die L2 Cache
  • Mobile Intel PM45 Express Chipset +ICH9M
  • Windows Vista Ultimate, Business, Home Premium
  • DDR2 800 MHz SDRAM, 2 x SODIMM socket for expansion up to 4GB SDRAM
  • 12.1in WXGA LED backlight LCD
  • NVIDIA GeForce 9300M GS External 256MB VRAM
  • 320GB, 5400rpm hard drive
  • DVD Super Multi Double Layer
  • 8 in 1 card reader
  • 0.3Mp webcam
  • Express card, Microphone-in jack, Headphone-out jack (S/PDIF), VGA port/Mini D-sub 15-pin for external monitor, USB 2.0 ports, RJ45 LAN Jack for LAN insert, HDMI, E-SATA
  • 4 speakers and array microphone
  • 3-cell lithium ion battery
  • 30x22x2.53-3.16cm
  • 1.57kg
  • Intel Core 2 Duo Processor T9400/P8600/P8400: 2.53GHz-2.26GHz, 1066MHz, 6/3MB On-Die L2 Cache
  • Mobile Intel PM45 Express Chipset +ICH9M
  • Windows Vista Ultimate, Business, Home Premium
  • DDR2 800 MHz SDRAM, 2 x SODIMM socket for expansion up to 4GB SDRAM
  • 12.1in WXGA LED backlight LCD
  • NVIDIA GeForce 9300M GS External 256MB VRAM
  • 320GB, 5400rpm hard drive
  • DVD Super Multi Double Layer
  • 8 in 1 card reader
  • 0.3Mp webcam
  • Express card, Microphone-in jack, Headphone-out jack (S/PDIF), VGA port/Mini D-sub 15-pin for external monitor, USB 2.0 ports, RJ45 LAN Jack for LAN insert, HDMI, E-SATA
  • 4 speakers and array microphone
  • 3-cell lithium ion battery
  • 30x22x2.53-3.16cm
  • 1.57kg

OUR VERDICT

All in all, the Asus U6V-A1 is not a bad notebook. For media, its weak speakers prevent it from being a great choice, but if you want a compact notebook that can handle everyday tasks and maybe some light gaming, the U6V makes for a fairly attractive package.

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