Asus UL20A review

Price when reviewed

Netbooks have had their time in the limelight, but with the likes of Asus’s UL20A on the market, their days look to be numbered. Combining stamina and ultraportable dimensions with more power than any netbook can muster, Asus’ latest should tempt cash-strapped buyers to spend that bit more.

Despite costing just £400 exc VAT, the UL20A is a classy little number. The brushed-aluminium lid adds a dash of style, with the silver finish spreading inside and contrasting nicely with the black Scrabble-tile keyboard and glossy black screen bezel.

Asus UL20A

Build quality hasn’t suffered: the UL20A feels solid and flex-free, and the rigid, slimline lid does a good job of protecting the 12.1in TFT from harm. It’s comfortable too. The keyboard is excellent, with a firm, unyielding base and crisp key action. The layout works, with the Home cluster of keys rearranged and tucked out of the way on the right-hand side. In fact, the only minor moan comes courtesy of the single, rocker-style button beneath the trackpad; it might look good, but we much prefer individual buttons.

Those looking for a laptop they can carry around day-in day-out will find more than enough to love. At just 1.53kg, the Asus is light enough to sling in a bag for a regular commute and, thanks to the 12.1in display, it’s appreciably smaller than the herd of 13.3in CULV laptops dominating this category.

Once you start using the UL20A, its appeal really comes to the fore. The Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 hops along at a modest 1.3GHz, but the two cores are enough to keep Windows 7 feeling snappy enough for most tasks. A benchmark score of 0.67 underlines its capabilities – it isn’t lightning-quick by laptop measures, but it’s twice as powerful as your average netbook.


Warranty1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions298 x 225 x 29mm (WDH)
Travelling weight1.8kg

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Core 2 Duo SU7300
RAM capacity3.00GB
Memory typeDDR2
SODIMM sockets free0
SODIMM sockets total2

Screen and video

Screen size12.1in
Resolution screen horizontal1,366
Resolution screen vertical768
Resolution1366 x 768
Graphics chipsetIntel GMA 4500M
Graphics card RAM32MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs1
HDMI outputs0
S-Video outputs0
DVI-I outputs0
DVI-D outputs0
DisplayPort outputs0


Hard disk usable capacity298GB
Spindle speed5,400RPM
Internal disk interfaceSATA/300
Hard diskSeagate ST9320325AS
Optical disc technologyN/A
Optical drivenone
Replacement battery price inc VAT£0


Wired adapter speed100Mbits/sec
802.11a supportno
802.11b supportyes
802.11g supportyes
802.11 draft-n supportyes
Integrated 3G adapterno
Bluetooth supportno

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switchno
Wireless key-combination switchyes
ExpressCard34 slots0
ExpressCard54 slots0
PC Card slots0
USB ports (downstream)3
FireWire ports0
PS/2 mouse portno
9-pin serial ports0
Parallel ports0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports0
3.5mm audio jacks2
SD card readeryes
Memory Stick readeryes
MMC (multimedia card) readeryes
Smart Media readerno
Compact Flash readerno
xD-card readeryes
Pointing device typeTouchpad
Audio chipsetRealtek HD Audio
Speaker locationFront edge
Hardware volume control?no
Integrated microphone?yes
Integrated webcam?yes
Camera megapixel rating0.3mp
Fingerprint readerno
Smartcard readerno
Carry caseno

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use9hr 5min
Battery life, heavy use3hr 25min
Overall application benchmark score0.67
Office application benchmark score0.69
2D graphics application benchmark score0.80
Encoding application benchmark score0.62
Multitasking application benchmark score0.58
3D performance (crysis) low settingsN/A
3D performance settingN/A

Operating system and software

Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS familyWindows 7
Recovery methodRecovery partition
Software suppliedN/A

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