Asus U1F Notebook: Light and Bright

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If you’re one of those business travelers or road warriors to whom the words “small” and “light” mean everything in a notebook computer, Asus is giving you something new to drool over: the Asus U1F. The system doesn’t pack the CPU horsepower of a desktop-replacement or gaming notebook, but with a weight (with 3-cell battery!) of just 2.2 pounds and one of the industry’s only LED backlit displays, the U1F may turn out to be some folks’ favorite traveling companions.

The U1F features an Intel CoreDuo U2400 CPU running at 1.06 GHz with 2 MB of L2 cache, and comes pre-installed with either Windows Vista Business or Windows Vista Home Premium. (Good luck with Aero.) But the CPU isn’t a main selling point: for that, look to the 11.1 WXGA (1,366 by 768) LCD display with LED backlighting. Most notebook computers use cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFLs) to light the screen; while CCFLs are currently cheaper than LED backlighting, LEDs enable a wider range of colors and (importantly for notebooks and portable devices) use far less power than their CCFL counterparts. Some portable media players and devices with smaller screens use LED backlighting, but the U1F will be one of the first notebook computer to deploy the technology.

The other leading feature of the U1F is its weight: just 1kg (2.2 pounds) with a 3-cell battery, 1.19 kg (2.62 pounds) with a 6 cell battery, making the unit friendly on the tote bag and shoulder strap. Also check out the leather-bound palm rest and slim profile.

The U1F ships with 512 MB of RAM (upgradable to 1.5 GB), used Intel integrated 945GM graphics, offers a 60 or 80 GB hard drive, 100Base-T Ethernet, 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi, optional Bluetooth 2.0+EDR, 5-in-1 media card reader, four USB 2.0 ports, one IEEE 11394 port, an ExpressCard slot, mic and headphone jacks, and VGA output. What’s missing? An optical drive. Asus supplies external a combination Blu-ray Disc/DVD Super Multi DL/Combo optical drive which connects via USB: Blu-ray is available.

Again: the U1F isn’t going to win any horsepower competitions, but for a sleek, very lightweight notebook, it’s hard to ignore. Asus plans to begin selling the U1F internationally beginning this month, but hasn’t yet released pricing details—but with Blu-ray capability, it’s not likely to be cheap.