Asus was one of the launch partners for the nifty graphics switching tech, Nvidia Optimus, so it's no surprise to see it appear on another of its laptops: the 13-inch U35Jc. Unlike previous appearances, however, such as on the budget K52Jc or the multimedia-centric N53Jn, the U35Jn's portability makes the technology potentially invaluable.
With the U35Jn Asus is competing with the likes of the HP Pavilion dm4 and Samsung Q330, and just like them it retails in and around the £650 region. It's subtly different to either, however, as it jettisons an integrated optical drive in favour of the dedicated GPU. Which is more important is up to the individual, but at least Asus offers something a little different.
At 1.9kg the Asus weighs around the same as its competitors, and is 'portable' as opposed to 'ultra-portable'. Visually it borders on stylish, but is let down by somewhat slapdash look and feel. Its black, brushed metal lid is very nice, as is the brown, smooth plastic finish around the touchpad and palm rest. We found the black plastic bezel discordant, however, and the general build quality is merely so so. Panels flex noticeably under pressure, and the general fit and finish isn't on a par with the HP or Samsung.
No complaints can be made of the specification, though. Running matters is a 2.4GHz, Intel Core i3 processor, ably supported by a 3MB Cache, 4GB of RAM and both Intel HD Graphics and a 1GB Nvidia GeForce 310M where required. 802.11n Wi-Fi, Gigabit Ethernet and Bluetooth 2.1 are all included, too, giving the U35Jn a comprehensive spec.
You get a fairly standard range of connections, including three USB ports, HDMI and VGA. There are a couple of audio jacks and a memory card reader as well, but eSATA is conspicuous by its absence. Also, unlike competing machines, none of the USB ports feature standby power charging - a useful feature for charging phones and other accessories.