ASUS UX31 Ultrabook Battery

February 13 [Fri], 2015, 11:16

After looking around for awhile, I bought the U200 preconfigured from a BestBuy, in Canada, for $1,599. After tax, the price was $1,801. Both Futureshop and Staples had their U200’s for $100-$200 more, so the decision was a no brainer. I chose to purchase from a brick-and-mortar over a web retailer because of their close proximity, return policy and price protection.The overall build quality of this machine is very good. It comes designed with a magnesium alloy chassis, air pocket cushioning, padding materials, HDD protection and a spill resistant keyboard. The notebook feels very solid and durable. There are no creaks when I lift the notebook from one of its corners. The overall design of this notebook is simple and practical with its gray and black exterior and only six, small external buttons.

When I press against the back of the screen there are no ripples, at all. However, the screen frame twists a little when moderate pressure is applied to the top corners. There is no wobbling when opening and closing the lid. Also, only one hand is needed to open the screen.The U200 isn’t the thinnest notebook in its class being about 2.5cm (or 1″) thick. To get a better idea of the thickness, I put a Canadian $2 coin on the side.This laptop has 3 USB ports, but I think one more would be better. Another thing to note is the location of the memory. Both slots for the memory are located underneath the keyboard. Thankfully, Toshiba provides easy to follow instructions on how to access these slots in the manual.The 12.1″ WXGA TFT w/ Trubrite screen came without any dead pixels. The screen is very bright and evenly lit. The highest resolution is 1280 x 800. The horizontal viewing angles are excellent, allowing very wide viewing angles with very little ghosting. The vertical viewing angle is not as good but still satisfactory. There is minor leakage along the bottom of the screen as I’ve tried to show. Another thing about the screen is that it only opens to about 135 degrees.

The speakers are nothing special. They are located in the lid, just below the screen. They are not as tinny as were the speakers on the Acer 5502, but being as small as they are, provide very little bass. However, I watched March of the Penguins without head phones and had no complaints. They were clear and loud enough to listen to from across the room at half the maximum volume. Still, for someone who listens to a lot of music or watches a lot of movies, I recommend getting a good pair of headphones to hook up to the external headphone port. A nice added feature to note is the built in microphone which provides fairly clear recording.

When Apple announced its transition to Intel, there was the expectation that hardware updates would become more frequent. So it came as a surprise when Apple was slow to move to the newer, more efficient Core 2 Duo processor. Eventually, not only did Apple switch to the 64-bit processor, they also added many features that were left out of the original MacBook Pro, namely a dual-layer DVD burner and FireWire 800. They also added a larger 120 GB hard drive, 1 GB of RAM, and a now unlocked 802.11n AirPort Extreme. Apple was also able to improve the cooling, which allowed them to speed up a grossly underclocked ATI Mobility X1600 and be more competitive with the competition. On paper, the Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro looks more like what the Core Duo version should have been, but does that prove to be true in real world use? Let’s find out!

Overall I am quite impressed by the looks and build of this notebook ― while it doesn’t have that “I can take anything you throw at me” look, it is quite well built and pretty sharp looking when on your desk.Well, the number one reason I bought this notebook is for its Core Duo processor. It is wonderful having multithreaded performance in a laptop, and there is really a significant improvement in everyday tasks. Windows Home does support multithreading (only in dual core form, not dual processor), and everything is just that little bit more snappy. For about the same price one can purchase a similarly specced notebook with a 2GHz single-core Centrino processor. But I am glad I stuck with my choice.

I wanted at least a gigabyte of memory and I am very happy with the performance ― although I am not happy that the notebook comes with 533MHz DDR2 memory when it does support 667MHz chips. But I guess that would have significantly raised the cost. Multitasking is great on this machine, even with resource hungry apps like virtualization (VMWare) and having multiple apps open. Never once did I get “freeze” while doing all these tasks.The installed hard drive also gives it a significant speed boost because of SATA and native command queuing. It is a 100Gig 5400rpm 8meg cache model made by Fujitsu. It is also very silent. I would like to eventually upgrade it to a 7200rpm model though, just to keep up with the processor.I upgraded from a desktop Athlon XP 2600+ system also with a Gig RAM and a fast 200Gig 8meg cache hard disk, and I must admit this notebook is much more responsive, possibly due to the dual core processor.

Lastly, graphics performance is satisfactory. I am by no means a gamer, but I have tested a few games (like Call of Duty 2 and Half Life 2) just to see how it handles, and I am very impressed. More important to me is the fact that I constantly run a dual monitor setup, and the DVI output is great for my bigger LCD monitor. It takes a while to get the settings right with the ATI catalyst software, but now it works just great. It sure is great to have two monitors running at once. Once you do it, you’ll feel cramped on a single screen.

The chassis feels very strong and when the notebook is closed it feels stiff enough to stand on (though we don’t recommend standing on it). Dell did an excellent job perfecting the solid frame and really nailed it with the precise fit of the body panels. Every panel is securely held in place with even gaps around mating surfaces. The panels themselves feel durable and resist flexing under moderate pressure. The only surface on the notebook that seems to have any flex is the keyboard tray that flexes slightly under strong pressure.

The preconfigured U200 has handled every task I’ve thrown at it without slowing down with its Intel Core Duo 2300E. Windows XP boots up quickly. The hard-drive is a 100GB, 5400 RPM Toshiba. However, the HDD only shows 93.1GB. The memory is 1GB at 533MHz, enough for a typical user. One complaint is the time it took to shutdown, restart or go into standby. When I first started using this, it took over three minutes. However, after about a week of use the problem disappeared and it now shuts down quickly.

I’ve been monitoring the CPU and HDD temps using Everest. Both cores running light tasks such as, Firefox, iTunes, and MS Word, gave temperatures of about 30-40 degrees Celsius. Under heavier loads the CPU reached almost 60 degrees Celsius. This is somewhat cooler than the other laptops I’ve tried. Also the HDD runs at about 35-40 degrees Celsius under non-intensive use. The HDD is very quiet. The fan on this thing is really quiet even at its fastest setting. In fact, I can only hear it when I put my ear close to the exhaust in a silent room, so I don’t really know how often it’s running. This notebook came preinstalled with an acoustic silencer for the optical drive. In “Quiet mode” I can barely hear the drive running. After several hours of use, there is a minor amount of heat produced under the palm rests, where the HDD lies.

I have found the keyboard to be comfortable to type on. The keys are laid out very well, without too many extras, just some media buttons on the top. Also, the keys have more travel then the others, with a very Thinkpad feel to them, and do not feel squeezed together. One thing to note is the flex in the keyboard. This keyboard flexes a little more than any of the keyboards I’ve tried on other laptops.The track pad is very tiny but, very responsive. The track pads buttons are also very tiny, but have a nice quite click to them. I would definitely recommend buying a portable mouse to go with this laptop.

The U200 also comes with a fingerprint reader. The finger print reader is very useful. With one swipe, I can log onto windows or any web-site requiring a user name and password. There is a “My Safe” folder that can only be accessed with the finger print reader, allowing safe storage of any private data. It was quick and easy to setup and register my fingerprints.Input and Output Ports This laptop has three USB 2.0 ports. For me, one more USB port would have been nice. It also has FireWire, 1 PC Card, a 6-in-1 media adaptor, RJ11, RJ45 and RGB. As well, it has a speaker and microphone jack.This laptop comes with an Intel Wireless 802.11 a/b/g card. It also has Bluetooth, which is a nice feature because it allows me to use a Bluetooth mouse and free up one of the USB ports.

Battery Overall, I am very impressed with the six-cell battery. Using the Long-life power setting the battery gave me up to 4.5 hours of use. One down side is the charging time of 4-5 hours while off and almost 12 hours while on.The laptop came with a preinstalled Windows XP Home edition. A nice feature was the added system recovery disk with Windows XP Home on it. I know that with Acer or HP/Compaq these disks need to be ordered or burnt after purchasing. One thing to note are the pre-installed Toshiba utilities. Some of these are more useful than others. I particularly like using the Power Saving utility over the Windows power settings. I’ve also found the HDD protection software to be useful. Not including Toshiba’s utilities, this machine did come with some bloatware installed. I found most of these apps to be useless and have since uninstalled them. One application I’ve kept is the Express Media Player, which allows DVD or CD playback without loading up Windows.

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