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ET review: Asus U32U

The Asus U32U weighs just 1.8kg, has an average depth of less than 1-inch and offers a tapered design to compete with Intel's reference design.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Apr 04, 2012, 06.08 AM IST|Original: Apr 04, 2012, 06.05 AM IST
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NEW DELHI: With Intel's UltraBooks gathering attention, AMD tied up with Asus to take a swing at the lightweight and ultraslim notebook segment with their own offering, which they call the 'Thinbook'. The Asus U32U weighs just 1.8kg, has an average depth of less than 1-inch and offers a tapered design to compete with Intel's reference design.

It is powered by an AMD dual-core processor (1.6Ghz), 8GB RAM, 320GB hard drive and features an integrated Radeon 6320 graphics with DirectX 11 capabilities. The 13.3-inch display has a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels and good viewing angles.

What impressed further was that the screen was exceptionally bright - we had to reduce brightness to 30% for comfortable indoor use. In terms of overall performance, the U32U breezed through day-to-day office work and multimedia. High def videos are no problem - no framedrops and the onboard speakers were loud enough for an average size room.

However, once we connected it to a TV via HDMI cable, video playback performance dipped substantially. Even standard definition video files were unable to run smoothly. The output resolution did not fit the TV's screen and CPU usage rose to over 40% for no clear reason. Running presentations or the browser while connected to the TV did not show any sign of performance issues.

Build quality of the U32U is impressive too. The brushed metal pattern on the top lid has a matte finish, which extends to the palmrest and even under the notebook. This is a welcome change from the glossy panels we have seen on a lot of newer notebooks. Unlike some of the cheaper Ultrabooks, the screen does not wobble when touched. The island-style keyboard is comfortable to use and provides good tactile feedback.

While we did feel that the trackpad had good response, the two buttons on the trackpad were hard to press. One of the more impressive aspects about the U32U is the number of ports that Asus managed to include on such a lightweight design. It does not include an optical drive, but it does have 3 USB ports (one USB 2.0 port and two USB 3.0 ports), Ethernet, VGA and HDMI video out as well as 3.5mm headphone and line-in jack.

ET review: Asus U32U
Plus, one of the USB ports always gets power from the battery - this means that you can charge devices like cellphones and mp3 players even when the notebook is powered off. Overall, two thumbs up for the fantastic build quality and sturdiness to Asus for this one. Our review unit is priced at Rs 34,990 and comes with an 8-cell battery which offers a battery life of just over 6 hours.

The 8-cell battery does stick out at the bottom, but it lifts the notebook off the table, elevating the keyboard to an angle that makes typing more comfortable, while allowing for quicker heat dissipation. Asus also offers another variant of the U32U that comes with 2GB RAM and a 4-cell battery, which is priced at Rs 30,990.

Unfortunately, Asus does not plan on selling the U32U in India with Windows 7 preinstalled. If you plan to purchase Windows 7, it means another Rs 6,000 (for Windows 7 Home Basic) taking the total to Rs 37,000 (for the 2GB RAM U32U variant).

By comparison, you can spend Rs 36,000 and get the Dell Inspiron 13z (which also weighs 1.8kg), with a 13.3-inch display, Intel Core i3 processor, 2GB RAM, Windows 7 Home Basic, 320GB storage, Intel HD graphics and an integrated optical drive (DVD R/W).
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