updated 09:00 am EDT, Tue May 5, 2009
ASUS U Series Notebooks
ASUS has fleshed out the details of its designer U series notebooks. Ostensibly based on the shape of a butterfly, the systems share the same tapered shape of the MacBook Air and are also faster, larger versions of the Eee PC 1008HA. The 12-inch U20A, 13.3-inch UX30 and 15.6-inch UX50V are all based on the basic processors expected to be part of Intel's Consumer Ultra Low Voltage (CULV) effort and attempt to bring ultra-thin designs to larger systems, ranging from the entry 1.2GHz Celeron M in the U20A to the 1.3GHz Pentium, 1.4GHz Core 2 Solo and 1.6GHz Core 2 Duo in the UX30 and UX50V.
While none of these are more than 1.2 inches thick at their thickest point, the UX30 is thinnest at 0.9 inches across its length; it's also the lightest at 3.5 pounds thanks to its omission of a DVD burner present on other models. All versions have 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and LED-backlit screens while also supporting hard drives up to 500GB in size, up to 4GB of memory. The smaller two models use Intel's GMA 4500 graphics, but the UX50V gets a dedicated GeForce G 105M with 512MB of video memory.
The U81A, U80V, U50G and U51Vg are thicker and heavier but also have LED backlights and full notebook-class processors that start from the 2GHz Pentium dual-core and scale up to a 2.66GHz Core 2 Duo. As the starter, the U81A has a 14-inch display, GMA 4500 video and the same storage and RAM features as the larger ultraportables. The U80V adds a 512MB Mobility Radeon HD 4570 graphics chipset for much faster 3D while keeping the same screen. Finally, the very similar U50G and U51Vg both get larger 15.6-inch panels and GeForce G 105M graphics.
As with most ASUS launches, the company hasn't given out pricing or said when and where it plans to ship the systems, though at least some of these are expected to ship to the US.
ASUS' CULV launch marks just the second after Acer's Timeline and, like its rival, is meant to offer ultraportable profiles, performance and battery life at costs closer to budget notebooks or even netbooks, undercutting systems like the MacBook Air or ThinkPad X301 without a significant speed hit.