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The Asus U2E-1P057E was put through our usual set of tests, including PCMark 05 and Vantage, our in-house Photoshop Elements and VirtualDub tests and MobileMark 2007 for testing the battery performance. And, using the similarly priced Sony VAIO VGN-TZ31MN and Lenovo Thinkpad X300 for comparison, in raw terms this U2E compares very well.
Despite sharing an identical processor to the Sony its SSD helps it inch a significant lead out in both versions of PCMark, particularly in the HDD tests and in PCMark Vantage, the Productivity tests. These are the scenarios where the fast access times of the SSD come through, making light of the moderate CPU behind it all. In general use this drive certainly helped the U2E feel more responsive, with programs launching faster and boot times and sleep mode transitions improved. Unsurprisingly, though, the faster CPU and SSD in the ThinkPad X300 meant it trounced both of them, though it's obviously significantly more expensive as well.
This pecking order is continued in the in-house tests, but the MobileMark 2007 battery tests show why Asus felt the need to include two batteries in the box. Here the Sony TZ shows its strength, managing over six and half hours on a single charge, whereas the Asus ceased performing at a comparatively short four and a quarter hours. Still a good effort compared to standard machines, but less than both the stupendous lifespan of the Sony TZ and even the larger and higher power ThinkPad X300.
However, the second three-cell battery offsets this issue somewhat, since it offers essentially half the lifespan of the six-cell again - the productivity test ended after 123 minutes, just under half the 256 minutes of the six-cell. Even the 379 minutes combined still falls short of the 396 minutes of the TZ, but given the saving it's an acceptable compromise. It's only a shame this won't be of much help when watching films, would you really want switch batteries mid-movie?
So, if you want the ultimate in battery life then the Sony TZ is still your best bet, but if you're happy to utilise both batteries the difference isn't too extreme and the performance benefits of more memory and an SSD hard drive are significant enough to make it worthwhile.
Despite some niggling issues regarding the keyboard and a noisy fan, it's hard to ignore the value and quality on offer here. With two batteries in the box, HDMI output, 4GB RAM and an SSD for the same price as a fairly basic entry-level Sony TZ, it puts down a formidable challenge to its competitors. Add in the excellent screen, good performance and attractive design and you've got an exceedingly tempting alternative. Our only other regret is the lack of an HSDPA equipped version.
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