At the left there are another two USB 2.0 ports, which is pretty impressive for an ultra-portable machine like this. One of the USB ports has a DC output next to it for use with the bundled external DVD writer. Here you’ll also find headphone and microphone sockets, along with a D-SUB port.
In the box you’ll find a surprisingly large external DVD writer, although the fact that it is powered directly from the notebook makes up for this somewhat. There is also a hardware power switch on the rear of the drive, so you can keep it connected to the notebook without drawing power.
Asus supplies the U1F with two batteries – one three cell and one six cell unit. I wasn’t able to run Mobile Mark on the machine, since the current version doesn’t run on Vista, but I did use the U1F on battery power and managed to get about three hours 15 minutes out of the three cell pack. Rough maths would indicate that you’ll get around six hours out of the six cell battery, which isn’t bad, although the larger battery increases the weight of the machine to 1.21kg. Considering that the Sony TX3XP managed over nine hours battery life under Mobile Mark, it’s fair to say that Sony’s svelte baby has got the U1F beaten when it comes to working on the move.
In fact the only benchmark that we’ve managed to get running successfully on Vista is PCMark – well done Futuremark! Firing up PCMark 2005 returned an overall result of 2013, compared to only 1441 on the Sony TX3XP. It’s the dual core CPU in the Asus U1F that gives it the edge over the TX3XP under PCMark.
With a price tag of £1,399 including VAT, the U1F isn’t cheap, but then truly ultra-portable notebooks rarely are. Given that you can pick up the Sony TX3XP for around £1,485 these days, there’s not much between the two machines when it comes to pricing. Which one you buy depends on what’s most important to you – if you absolutely, positively must have the lightest notebook possible, and like the idea of a dual core chip, then the U1F is definitely worth considering.
Asus has definitely proved that it knows how to build an ultra-portable notebook – the U1F is small, light and incredibly stylish. It’s also great seeing a dual core CPU in a machine so small. That said, I think I’d probably still go for the VAIO TX3XP, with it’s integrated DVD writer and nine hour battery life just tipping the scales in Sony’s favour.