On the hinge reside the LED indicators, with clear icons indicating their function. To the right of these is the textured power button. On the left are another two buttons. One launches a webcam application, while the other launches the secondary ExpressGate Linux OS. It starts up in less than 10 seconds, allowing you access to the Internet, music, online games, photos, IM and Skype. Not everyone may use this, but it’s a handy extra and is less power consuming than Windows.
Connectivity, meanwhile, is exemplary. On the right you’ll find a Kensington lock slot, headphone and microphone jacks, a USB port, SD/MMC/SD-HC/MS-Pro card reader and the tray-loading 8x DVD writer. On either side of the battery at the notebook’s rear we have LAN, modem and VGA, while the front remains clear. The machine’s left side houses an 54mm ExpressCard slot, wireless switch, two more USB ports, power-in and best of all, a rare e-SATA connector in addition to HDMI. Quite simply, you can’t really ask for more than that!
Batteries are one of the few major hurdles left in the race for ultra-portability. We have developed LCD screens that are thinner than a slice of toast and permanent storage the size of a credit card, but the one thing we still can’t shrink much without losing capacity is the battery: you either have to sacrifice portability or usage time. Asus, while not providing a perfect solution, at least gives you a choice and ships the U6 with two batteries.
The first is a small three-cell 2400mAh affair which is also finished in leather on the outside, and sits flush with the U6V’s chassis. With this battery the notebook weighs an incredibly light 1.61kg. Meanwhile, the large extended eight-cell 7800mAh battery adds 500 grams, taking the overall laptop’s weight to 1.91kg; still fairly light, considering it will give you up to five hours use under normal conditions – more if you’re frugal.
However, it does rather alter the sleek machine’s appearance, since the larger battery sticks out over four centimetres at the back. This might not sound like much, until you consider the whole notebook is only 22 centimetres deep. It’s not finished in leather either, or even brown enamel to match the lid. Instead, it is plain black, adding to the incongruity of the look. It does have a grooved pattern, though, making it easy to hold the notebook by.
What’s most amazing is the extent to which the U6V-2P001E consistently trounces its Asus Lamborghini VX3 cousin in the battery life stakes, beating it by a minimum of half an hour in DVD Playback tests and over an hour in others. Interestingly, these notebooks are somewhat similar in terms of hardware, even using the same battery. They only differ in one major respect: the more recent U6V model uses Intel’s new Centrino 2 and its more advanced processors.
Speaking of processors, the U6V is certainly no slouch. An Intel Core 2 Duo T9400 running at 2.53GHz ensures this notebook crunches through most tasks with ease, especially when backed up by 4GB of 800MHz RAM. In fact, this might seem like a slightly odd choice as only 3GB will really be usable with the 32-bit Windows Vista Premium/Business the machine ships with, but it does mean you won’t have to upgrade the hardware if and when you switch to 64-bit.