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Asus U1F Ultra-Portable Notebook
Even though you may not think of Asus as a big player in the notebook market, it's worth remembering that this huge Taiwanese company actually manufacturers notebooks for some of the big brands that you will be very familiar with. With that kind of know how behind it, it comes as no surprise that Asus can create notebooks that give the likes of Sony and Apple a run for their money, and the U1F that I'm typing on right now is a prime example.
There are a lot of thin and light notebooks around these days, but the U1F is an ultra-portable in every sense of the word. Weighing in at a feather light 1kg, it's one of the lightest notebooks I've ever reviewed, with only the iconic Sony VAIO X505 coming in lighter at 822g. Of course the X505 didn't even have an integrated Ethernet port, let alone integrated wireless. Since you can't actually buy the X505 anymore, it's probably the VAIO TX3XP that the U1F is going up against. But even the super-svelte TX3XP weighs 250g more than this Asus, but then it also has an integrated DVD writer. The U1F is also slightly smaller than the TX3XP at 276 x 190 x 24mm (WxDxH) compared to 272.4 x 195 x 28mm.
Asus has foregone having an integrated optical drive in the U1F, instead opting for ultimate portability. In that respect the U1F feels very similar to the Samsung Q30 that I reviewed a couple of years ago, although the Q30 was also missing a PC Card slot, whereas the U1F has an ExpressCard slot. The importance of a PC Card or ExpressCard slot is that it means the user can insert a 3G data card, and have Internet access almost anywhere. The lack of an optical drive isn't a major issue for me, since I rarely use one when I'm out and about, although the fact that the Sony TX series manages to squeeze one in without compromising size and weight is impressive.
One area where the U1F does have Sony's TX3XP beaten is the choice of CPU - the TX3XP utilises a single core chip, while the U1F is equipped with a dual core Intel U2400 running at 1.06GHz. With 1GB of system memory supporting the ultra low voltage CPU, the U1F isn't going to be a power house when it comes to performance. Now, usually I'm not that bothered by raw performance in an ultra-portable notebook, but considering that the U1F is running Windows Vista, it does feel slightly sluggish. My advice would be to specify 2GB of RAM at the point of purchase, as this should make all the difference.