Asus certainly seems to be on a roll this week when it comes to notebooks; if the announcement of the stylish F8 wasn’t enough, then maybe the U3 will be. To look at it best resembles the U1F attired in the same piano black casing and leather palm rests, although the keyboard is now silver not black as on the U1. However, the photographs are of an engineering sample so this could change.
The screen is a 13.1in 1,280 x 800 LED backlit affair, which should look fantastic while prolonging battery life if experience tells us anything. Notable inclusions on the case are an HDMI port, as well as e-SATA, while the omission of a DVD-drive is, as with the U1, a weight waving necessity, putting the U3 at around 1.8Kg with a 3-cell battery.
As is to be expected, most of the usual Santa Rosa features are onboard, including Draft-N wireless, support for from a 1.6GHz to a 2.2GHz Core 2, as much as 2.5GB DDR2 RAM (512MB of which is hard-wired to the motherboard) and the option of a turbo memory module.
The party piece, though, is the option to switch between either integrated Intel graphics, for power saving, or a 128MB nVidia 8400 for performance. While not a new trick by any means, we first saw it on a Rock Pegasus 650 back in 2005, this is the first time an Asus laptop has included the option.
Lastly the U3 also includes an HSDPA module, and what we in the office decided was the bizarre option of a GPS module. Frankly I think the idea of walking around using a 2Kg notebook to navigate with is mad, but if you disagree then please drop e-mail and I’ll repeal that statement.
In the end, I’d still rather have the U1 (or if you’re paying, the Sony Vaio TZ) but no doubt there is a market that Asus can tap with this product and if you’re in it you don’t really have a better alternative.