Sex and the laptop
- DVD burner, HDMI, 32GB solid-state drive, Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11 draft-n networking
- Small built-in storage capacity, the small battery won't last very long, uncomfortable touchpad, cooling fan is loud
This is a laptop for the fashion-conscious user who wants to get some work done on the road. It has good connectivity features and it is small and easy to carry, but don't expect to be able to perform taxing tasks on it.
Price$ 2,899.00 (AUD)
If the promos that we have been seeing at bus shelters for the last few days are any indication, the U2E should take the fancy of any successful career woman. Through a little groundbreaking market research of our own, we've also determined that this leather-bound beauty of a laptop will appeal to outgoing, social types with a keen eye for fashion and current trends.
But seriously, while its exterior serves to please those with a lust for eye candy, the guts of the unit, and what it can and can't do, shouldn't be overlooked. It's based on a 1.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo U7500 CPU, which is one of Intel's least power-thirsty CPUs. This CPU won't supply fast performance, and this was shown in our WorldBench 6 benchmark, where the U2E only scored 50. This means it will handle word processing, spreadsheets, and basic file compression and decompression, but it will be slow when used to edit images in Photoshop, for example. This also has a lot to do with the fact that the laptop has only 1GB of RAM.
You wouldn't want to use the U2E for many taxing endeavours. It's very much a machine for basic office and Internet work, and if time permits you can watch a movie on it with no problems, too. It has a decent set of features built into its base, including a DVD burner, three USB ports, an ExpressCard/34 slot, a D-Sub port, and an HDMI port. You can use the D-Sub and HDMI ports to connect to external display devices when giving presentations, and you can add more storage space by using the USB 2.0 ports.
You'll probably need to invest in an external hard drive at some point, as the U2E only ships with a 32GB solid-state drive (SSD). The upside of the SSD is that it's based on flash memory technology, so it has no moving parts. This means that if you accidentally drop the unit, you might break the exterior but the drive should still function as it did before. Another benefit is that it's lighter than a conventional hard drive and makes no noise. However, the U2E does have a rather lively extraction fan on its left-hand side, which might get on your nerves if you use it in a quiet place.
Working on the U2E while you're on the road should be no problem. It only weighs 1.25kg with its small battery, and it's 27cm wide and 20cm deep. The keyboard is easy to type on, despite the unit being so small, but the touchpad does feel a little sticky and isn't the most comfortable we've used (neither are its buttons, which feel stiff).
You might want to think about installing the second, larger battery (or at least taking it with you) when you know you'll be using the U2E for long periods while on the road, as its small battery (2400mAh) only lasted 1hr 16min in our worst-case scenario. The bigger (7800mAh) battery lasted 4hr 20min, but added about 250g to the overall weight and 2cm to the depth. Still, that's a small price to pay for much improved battery life, and the U2E remains a very portable unit even with the bigger battery installed.
The U2E's screen is 11.1in and has a native resolution of 1366x768; it's a similar size the screen on Lenovo's IdeaPad U110 (11306). It has good contrast, so photos and indeed the Windows Vista desktop will look good on it, and a webcam is installed at the top of the screen. Structurally, it feels a little too flexible, but overall the unit feels strong enough to withstand daily commutes.
Rounding up the usefulness of the U2E are its Gigabit Ethernet port, 802.11a/g/draft-n wireless networking, Bluetooth, an SD card reader and a fingerprint scanner. So as you can see, it has plenty of great features packed into its small frame. The only things it lacks are a FireWire port and 'sleep and charge'-type USB ports, similar to the ones found on the Toshiba Portege M800 (PPM80A-03H009), which we think are very convenient for charging MP3 players and phones.
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Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.
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