Price (RRP): $1399
Although well known for its many netbooks, Asus has yet to make a big splash in the ultrabook space. Its upcoming UX21 and UX31 ultrabooks look interesting, but right now the closest it comes is the U36JC, a notebook model that is a tad thicker and heavier than products like the Acer Aspire S3 and Sony Vaio Z series, but makes no compromises on performance.
The Asus U36JC has a full voltage Intel processor inside; either a 2.53GHz Intel Core i3 or a 2.66GHz Core i5, which is super-fast compared to most other devices in this category. It also has a dedicated graphics processor and a hard disk inside, with capacities up to 750GB.
It has a full array of ports, too, including VGA, HDMI, USB 3.0, a 5-in-1 card reader and gigabit LAN.
For that extra-oomph, you give up a little in terms of weight. The U36JC weighs 1.44kg with a four-cell battery and 1.6kg with an eight-cell, which is 100–300 grams heavier than your typical ultrabook. It’s also 19mm thick at its thickest point – again a few millimetres more than its main competitors, but a shave under Intel’s 20mm spec. Now, that millimetre may not sound like much, but next to the MacBook Air, for example, this Asus looks positively obese.
In addition to being thicker and heavier, the U36JC has a deeply uninspiring design: straight black magnesium-aluminium without flair or fuss. The screen is clear, the keyboard works well and the coated palm rests are comfortable, but there’s nothing here to make your friends and co-workers covetous.
And that seems to be what the U36JC is all about: it’s not flashy, but it offers no-compromise performance in a very portable package. If you want the performance of a larger laptop in something that’s close to the shape and weight of an ultrabook, it’s a good deal.