Wonderfully slim and lovely to look at, the Asus UX30 is an impressive feat of engineering, but it would be more compelling if the battery life was better or the price a little lower.
Gorgeous slimline design; great screen and keyboard.
Price; middling battery life.
The Asus UX30 is one of the first laptops to reach these shores to use one of Intel's new Consumer Ultra Low Voltage (CULV) processors designed for 'thin and light' ultra-portables like the MacBook Air, but without the high price tag - in theory.
In fact the MacBook Air was clearly the model for the Asus UX30, and the two laptops bear a very close resemblance. Both are more or less the same size and weight but, unlike the Air, the UX30 is the same thickness across its entire frame, so it looks a little chunkier. At a mere 21mm thick, though, this is still one seriously slim laptop.
The UX30 is sleek too, thanks in part to all the ports being hidden behind folding flaps. And, unlike the MacBook Air, there are plenty of ports on offer: three USB, Ethernet, HDMI, VGA (via a Mini DisplayPort adapter) and a memory card slot.
Less welcome is the fixed internal battery, but only because the Asus UX30's best-case battery life (paging through a text document with Wi-Fi off and the screen at mid-brightness) is just under four hours. Use it for something more demanding, and you can expect this to drop to around three hours. Far from a full day's work, in other words.
This middling battery life is a pity, since the UX30 is well-equipped for use as a main computer. The 13.3in screen has a high enough resolution (1366 x 768) for working with a few documents at once, and the large, comfortable keyboard is complemented by an equally large multi-touch trackpad.
The Core 2 Duo SU9400 processor is capable too, despite its comparatively low clock speed of 1.4GHz. The dual-core chip is much more suited to running multiple programs than that other popular low cost processor, the Intel Atom, and the 4GB of memory and 500GB hard disk certainly help here, too.
All in all, the UX30 is an impressively slim and surprisingly capable ultraportable that should give the MacBook Air and Dell Adamo a run for their money. The only catch is that, at £999, the UX30 isn't as cheap as Intel's CULV idea led everyone to believe, and the entry-level MacBook Air, with a faster processor and better graphics (though half the memory and a smaller hard disk), costs only a little more at £1,149.