Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Asus U32U Review


We’ve got neatly classified genres in laptops, notebooks – the normal ones, ultrabooks – ultra thin, but ultra expensive, and netbooks – cheap and portable, but relatively small and with lesser power. But, what do you get when there’s a cross between the good points of an ultrabook and a netbook. Yes, something that’s not too small, not too expensive and is quite thin. You get something that looks like the new Asus U32U notebook. But, does this one withstand our litmus test? Let’s find out. 
Modest?
Notebook?Netbook?


Design and Build Quality
The U32U comes dressed up in a dual tone colour of silver and black. The exterior has a matte finish to it, so fingerprints aren’t too much of a problem. The interiors have also been well designed. The U32U has a demure, modest look with the shades they’ve chosen, but that doesn’t make it any less appealing. 
Connectivity ports on the right
Connectivity ports on the right


The left side consists of a USB 2.0 slot, an HDMI slot, and a VGA port along with a heatsink vent. The right consists of a Kensington lock, the power slot, an Ethernet port, two USB 3.0 slots, a headphone jack, the SD card slot and a microphone jack. The inclusion of an Ethernet port is good news, as the laptop tapers out towards the end. But this form factor also means that the DVD writer slot needs to be eliminated. 

The LCD panel has some good support with two sturdy hinges. They’re quite strong and tough and offer some good resistance to the screen wobbling problem that we so often see in laptops. The 13.3-inch screen itself has been reinforced pretty well from all sides. It’s thin, but durable. There’s some good amount of metal on the bottom panel as well. 
No heating problems
No heating problems


The design may appear to be plain to some, but it didn’t disappoint us one bit. Also, the thin profile gives the U32U that oomph, which we mostly reserve only for Ultrabooks, like the Zenbook UX31, we reviewed earlier. Obviously, it’s not as thin as that one, but we’ll suggest you have a look at the price tags before you complain. In terms of build as well, the UX32U impressed us quite a lot. 

Features
The notebook is powered by an AMD E-450 APU at a clock speed of 1.65 GHz. It’s got a whopping 8GB (!) of RAM and a 320GB hard disk. The U32U comes with an integrated graphics card – the AMD Radeon HD 6320 and has a display resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. Connectivity options, include a camera, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth. All this is held together by the 64-bit Windows 7 operating system.
Slim profile
Slim profile


The U32U comes with a few pre-installed software. There’s the AMD VISION engine control centre that’s basically your one stop shop for all your tweakings and settings. It’s got a range of presets also including – gaming, battery saver and web browsing. Asus also have included a few utility softwares, including USB charger plus, a recovery app, boot optimizer software and a secure delete application. It’s well loaded with the basic stuff you’ll require to configure and manage your laptop. Performance
The boot up times didn’t impress us, it took us roughly 47 seconds to log onto Windows. Memory heavy applications might slow down the laptop a little, but for light usage like surfing and viewing content, the laptop works just fine. The viewing angles are pretty decent as well. The speakers are loud enough for personal usage. 
Brilliant keyboard
Brilliant keyboard


The U32U has a standard-sized keyboard, without a numpad. The keys have the right amount of feedback and the chiclet-styled keyboard ensures some pretty long hours of typing without any discomfort. There’s ample space below the keyboard as well. The trackpad is quick and responsive, but the keys are rather hard, so you’ll have to get used to that. In our tests, the laptop didn’t face any heating problems, so that’s a plus. It’s got a slim profile and is definitely more portable than your average notebook. 

We put the laptop under a couple of synthetic tests as well and here’s what the scores look like. 
Benchmark chart
Benchmark chart


We also compared it to the MSI U270-powered by the E-350 and they both pretty much compete with each other. The Asus won in the CPU arithmetic scores, while the MSI won in PC Mark Vantage. In real world tests, the MSI did noticeably better in our video encoding tests. The MSI recorded 8 mins 40 seconds, while the U323U did it in a time period of 5 mins 39 seconds, and it’s lower the better in that test. In POVRay, the ASUS laptop came out on top clocking in 1 min 29 seconds, as compared to 1 min 34 seconds that the MSI recorded. 
A comparison chart
A comparison chart


Battery Life
The Asus U32U is strapped with a rather powerful battery (and a slower processor, which means better battery life, anyway). In our high performance, more enabled, Battery Eater Pro test, the laptop gave us a full 3 hours and 21 minutes of battery life before giving way. That’s quite impressive, but you do have to remember the processor it’s powering. Under normal usage, you’ll easily be able to get more than six hours on your laptop, which means your traveling and on-the-go options are pretty much taken care of. 
Upfront
Worth a buy?


Verdict
The Asus U32U notebook with 8GB of RAM is priced at Rs.34,990. Alternatively, you do get a 2GB model for Rs.30,990 with DOS pre-installed. Anyway, back to this model that we reviewed - it’s quite pricey, because you’re paying quite a bit for the processing power equivalent to a netbook. True, you’re getting more estate space, but that’s about it. The Lenovo Z570 and G570 might be a little more bulkier and may vary slightly with the price, but they’ve got a much faster processor. If the U32U would have been priced around 30k, it would have made for a much better buy. Right now, it’s just a netbook that's a tad expensive with a bigger display. At this price tag, we’d recommend you consider the other options. 

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