Review: Asus U2E

The MacBook Air got people re-interested in the ultralight category, but Asus’ U series has been lurking on the sidelines, largely unnoticed, for considerably longer. The Asus U2E is an update of last year’s impressive U1F, correcting some early flaws with the model.

Most notable is the addition of an optical drive to the system, which will certainly make the laptop more appealing to a broader range of buyers. Another big change: Out goes the FireWire port, in comes HDMI output, though we can’t imagine who’ll be plugging this into their A/V rig for entertainment purposes.

Design-wise the U2E (Official slogan: “Deluxe is more”) sticks very closely to its ancestor, most evidently with its comfy textured leather palm rest. That leather now creeps to the back of the LCD, too, where it’s more of a fashion statement than an ergonomic boost. It’s a rare thing for a notebook that can turn heads while still looking good in the boardroom.

Unfortunately, the U2E still has some troubling problems that make it less attractive in an era of proliferating ultralights. Performance is uninspiring, and the machine is buggy, too. We encountered numerous odd crashes and Windows hiccups throughout our testing – stuff we wouldn’t expect to see on a brand new system. We chalk some of that up to Asus’s half-baked attempt at loading the machine with private label shovelware … but perhaps some will actually feel that software like the “ASUS Splendid Technology Utility” (actually a color correction tool) is useful enough to live with the stability issues.

The specs are decent (11.1-inch screen, 120 GB hard drive, 3 GB RAM, Core 2 Duo, and – most importantly – a 2.9-pound weight), but many competing machines (even the Air and the Lenovo IdeaPad U110) run circles around the U2E on every important benchmark. Still, if you feel the need to be surrounded by leather at all times (and you’re fresh out of jeanless chaps) the choice is all but made for you.

  • RAM Size: 3 GB
  • Clock Rate: 1.2 GHz
  • Hard Drive Size: 120 GB
  • Screen Size: 11.1 inches
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