The Asus W5FE 2P025E hits the elusive ultraportable laptop sweet spot.

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Big enough to be full-featured, the Asus W5FE 2P025E is so light that you won't think twice about taking it on the road with you.

The 1.8kg Asus W5FE 2P025E is equipped with a 2.25x2.75in Windows SideShow LCD - a bright, easy-to-read secondary screen in the lid that displays email messages, calendar appointments, and more without your having to turn the notebook on. After hours, you can use the LCD to play a game, listen to music, or flip through photos.

The Asus W5FE 2P025E's relatively short battery life - a few minutes shy of 2.5 hours in our tests with a 4800-milliamp upgrade - was a big letdown. (Fortunately, the company offers a 6600-milliamp battery.)

Crafted of sturdy, attractive magnesium alloy, the Asus W5FE 2P025E measures 304x226x30mm. The dark casing feels smooth and solid in the hand, and the bottom protective panels are thick and sturdy.

The 12.1in WXGA screen is plenty bright, and the Asus W5FE 2P025E's keyboard - with its textured touchpad - has a great layout. Just about every connection and port that a small to midsize business might need is present. For networking you get gigabit ethernet, a modem port, and Bluetooth and Wi-Fi wireless communications.

The Asus W5FE 2P025E's integrated 1.3Mp webcam can swivel 235 degrees to capture images both in front of and behind the screen. Three nearby buttons support one-press snapshots and volume adjustment.

The Asus LifeFrame software offers almost as many photography options as a low-end digital camera - among them, flash and continuous shooting - all presented in the Asus W5FE 2P025E's slick Vista-inspired tabbed and filmstrip interface.

Three USB ports, a four-in-one shared media card reader, and an ExpressCard slot offer multiple opportunities for expansion. You can add an external display with the VGA port or S-Video-out port, or introduce digital speakers via the combination headphones/S/PDIF port. The Asus W5FE 2P025E's 5400rpm hard drive can hold a whopping 160GB of content. You can upgrade both memory and storage yourself, although you'll have to discard the shipped 1GB of RAM first.

The Asus W5FE 2P025E is equipped to handle virtually any type of work as adroitly as a full-size notebook. Powered by a 2GHz Core 2 Duo T7200 and 1536MB of RAM, the ultraportable earned a healthy WorldBench 6 Beta 2 score of 74.

The Asus W5FE 2P025E ran Photoshop CS2, Microsoft Office, and other big applications without a problem, and it even burned DVDs (albeit slowly). The only things this machine can't handle are 3D games - a consequence of relying on integrated memory instead of a dedicated video controller.

Asus W5FE : Specs

  • 2GHz Core 2 Duo T7200
  • 12.1in 1,280x800-pixel widescreen display
  • 160GB hard drive
  • DVD±R DL/DVD±RW drive
  • 802.11a/g wireless
  • 2GHz Core 2 Duo T7200
  • 12.1in 1,280x800-pixel widescreen display
  • 160GB hard drive
  • DVD±R DL/DVD±RW drive
  • 802.11a/g wireless

OUR VERDICT

If battery life is all important to you, Asus' 1kg U1F, which holds out for more than six hours, might be a better match. But the Asus W5FE 2P025E has a much better keyboard, and with its best battery option selected it should last at least 4.5 hours on a single charge. And for cutting-edge SideShow technology, this model is currently the ultraportable to beat.

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