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Asus UL30A review

Andy Vandervell




  • Recommended by TR

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Asus UL30A
  • Asus UL30A
  • Asus UL30A
  • Asus UL30A
  • Asus UL30A
  • Asus UL30A
  • Asus UL30A
  • Asus UL30A
  • Asus UL30A
  • Asus UL30A
  • Asus UL30A
  • UL30A-A2 Notebook (1.3GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4GB DDR3, 500GB HDD, Windows 7 Home Premium, 13.3? HD LED)


Our Score:


User Score:


  • Superb battery life
  • Good value
  • Quiet


  • Drab design
  • Slightly flimsy body
  • Average viewing angles

Key Features

  • Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 CPU
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 320GB HDD
  • 13.3-inch 1366x768 pixel screen
  • 8-cell battery
  • Manufacturer: Asus
  • Review Price: free/subscription

A 13.3in screen on a laptop has always made a good compromise. It's just big enough that it's comfortable to use, but just small enough that you can carry it around in relative comfort. Machines like the Asus UL30A have taken this philosophy to heart, but remove the optical drive and add bigger batteries, and low-voltage processors, to help boost battery life. This machine isn't alone in this strategy, however, with the likes of the Sony VAIO Y Series and HP Pavilion dm3-1020ea providing stiff competition.

If you've read any of our previous reviews of such machines, the basics of the Asus UL30A should be familiar to you. At its heart beats an Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300, whose two cores chug along at a surprisingly lively 1.3GHz and are supported by a 3MB Cache. Asus trumps many rivals in adding a full 4GB of DDR3 RAM and a 64-bit install of Windows 7 Home Premium to match, and a decent 320GB hard drive for storage. Predictably graphics are of the Intel GMA variety, which won't do much for games but can accelerate HD video competently. This spec is right on the money for the circa £530 asking price.

It's just as well the UL30A is well-specified for its price, because it's not much to look at. We have no qualms over the black, brushed metal lid - it actually adds a sense of classiness sorely lacking from the likes of the Dell Inspiron 13z. Inside, however, things take a turn for worst. Black and glossy is as much as can be said, which is inoffensive provided you can live with the greasy fingerprints, but loses several points for imagination. Is a little contrast too much to ask?

Still, at least Asus doesn't try to over complicate things, and the UL30A is quite thin and light. At the tapered front edge it measures a miserly 14.8mm and, even with a big battery at the back, at its thickest it's just 24.6mm. It's a damn big battery too, an eight-cell unit with an 84 Watt-hour (5,600mAh) capacity. This should auger well for our battery life testing later on. Consequently the UL30A isn't quite a feather-weight, but at 1.8kg it's still eminently portable.

Connectivity covers the basics well, but doesn't excel in any particular way. As such you get the standard three USB ports, HDMI and VGA for video, two audio jacks (1x headphone, 1x microphone), a memory card reader, and a Gigabit Ethernet port. Asus offers both Wireless-N Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, which is encouraging for such a reasonably priced machine.

One thing that does separate the Asus from some competitors is the presence of Asus' ExpressGate instant-on OS, which is based on DeviceVM's Splashtop. It offers up options for a web browser, music player, video player and Skype calling in double-quick time, but we've long since concluded the functionality is too limited to be of any practical use.


June 21, 2010, 11:57 am

I dig the design - I'd give it an 8.


June 22, 2010, 12:47 am

Worth pointing out Carphone Warehouse are selling a slightly lower specced version of the UL30A for £349.00 http://www.carphonewarehouse.c... don't forget Quidco!

Processor is a dual-core Celeron, bit slower but feels perfectly sprightly for surfing and productivity and you lose the bluetooth but was exactly what I was looking for, pretty cheap and perfect for when I can't be bothered sat at the desk and want to sprawl on out the bed / infront of the telly! :)


June 22, 2010, 2:28 am

@Crispy - That Celeron SU2300 proc is an excellent unit. It is, for all practical purposes, as good as the Pentium-branded SU4100 and the C2D-branded SU7300. In fact it actually has significant advantages over the former. The Celeron/Pentium/C2D branding of these procs is very misleading - one usually winces at the very mention of the "C" word.


June 22, 2010, 5:23 am

I bought one last week from Carphone Warehouse. I returned it same day as the keyboard flex was irritating. I'm used to old IBM Tankpads (as I called them) from years ago so am prejudiced about keyboard flex on a hard surface (old school IT contractor here)

Very good value though, but the CW machine only carries 1 year warranty IIRC.

I'd thoroughly recommend it for anyone else


June 22, 2010, 11:44 pm

The keyboard thing really is a matter of personal taste. I've collected my UL30A from Carphone Warehouse today and the keyboard seems fine. I have a new Thinkpad at work and, despite being brought up on old school IBM clicky keybards, I'm not overly keen on it.


July 4, 2010, 5:11 am

This laptop seems pretty cool. Though I'd rather see what some of the full power "core i" processor and optimus equipped models Asus have are like. Like the U30Jc...not sure if you can even get that in UK yet/ever. If anyone knows anything about this or other similar laptops let me know :)

Richard 29

July 4, 2010, 3:29 pm

There seems to be some confusion over the webcam, some reviews (and the Asus site!) list it as 0.3MP, here it's listed as 1.3MP. Anybody able to clear up which is correct? (and more importantly is it any good?).


October 14, 2010, 11:20 pm

Can I ask for a correction on this - doesnt have Gigabit LAN. only 10/100

Spent a confusing hour trying to tweak my new home network until I figured this out..

Otherwise a very capable machine!

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