The right hand side is home to a VGA out and headphone and microphone ports. There’s also a physical volume control, which is so much more convenient than having to press a Function key and then the keyboard. The line out also doubles up as an SP/DIF, giving you digital output for a surround processor.
One issue is that there’s an Express card slot rather than a PC Card slot. This is great for future proofing but not so great for ‘now’ proofing. For example there’s no Express card 3G data cards on the market yet so if you need one this notebook won’t be any use to you. Round the back, you’ll find an S-Video out.
The chipset the Core Duo sits in is an Intel 945GM Express, which means that you get Intel integrated graphics which isn’t any use for gaming, but perfectly fine for everything else.
Video playback in particular is enhanced by the glossy contrast enhancing coating on the 12.1 inch screen. However, when watching a film in a darkened room the display backlight reflected back onto the screen, reducing effective black levels. However, watching the strong colours and visceral fast action of Kill Bill: Volume One, was still an engaging experience.
When it comes to performance, I chose to compare it to the Sony SZ1VP which we reviewed here. This is admittedly a more expensive notebook and is lighter, offers both Intel and nVidia graphics and has a larger hard disk. It does have the same CPU but has twice the memory complement. However, this comparison does give a good indication of the difference between going for something top-end or choosing something a bit more affordable.
In SYSmark 2002, the Asus lags behind overall – probably down to the relative lack of memory in the supplied configuration, but upgrading at time of purchase would sort that out. Confusingly the overall PC Mark 05 score is higher than the Sony, despite being slower in three of the four tests.
Moving along swiftly we come to the MobileMark 2005 score where we see that the Asus lags behind in each of the three tests with 171 minutes in the DVD playback test, so it wouldn’t quite make it to the end of a three hour movie. There's nothing special about these scores but the Asus does have one trick up its sleeve – in the box is an extended life battery – and it’s that that’s attached in the pictures. However, it does add a bit of bulk and weight, though even with it, it is still a very portable notebook.
Yes, if you can afford the Sony SZ1VP, it’s the better machine, but there’s a significant price difference. If you’re looking for a more affordable small and light notebook to take with you on your travels, then the Asus is a good bet. It will fit in your bag, it’s got a good enough display, and decent battery life and some nice touches such as the webcam and wireless switch buttons. It also looks good and is great to type on and thanks to the Core Duo it always feels snappy and responsive. With the street price likely to be less than the quoted price, this could be a notebook that hits the spot for both work and entertainment on the move.
With a 2GHz Core Duo processor under the hood this is an ultra portable machine that isn’t 'just for girls’ despite the ice white looks. A good choice if you’re budget can’t stretch to a Sony SZ1VP, though be sure to upgrade the RAM to 1GB.