ASUS U30SD-XA1 13.3-Inch Thin and Light Laptop (Black) (Personal Computers)

ASUS U30SD-XA1 13.3-Inch Thin and Light Laptop (Black)
Review I have broken into sections with total ratings of 10 for each. There is a summary pro / con in the end.


Keyboard: 9 / 10

Good size, layout and tactile response. Black on black Chiclet keys seem sharp, modern and comfortable for typing. Typing is also relatively quiet and not like many other Asus laptops, there is very little flex. I like the minimalist look, and that no excessive media keys. The keys themselves are spacious and the letters are little more than size. The only thing missing that would make it perfect for me is the back lighting.


Touchpad: 7 / 10

Smooth and accurate performance to the standard navigation & left / right click. Wide pad and left / right click the bar rocker working properly. Two finger scrolling works very well, but another multi-touch functions (zoom in / out, rotate) is buggy and only works half the time when I try. Krom left / right-click the bar looks great, but petroleum fingerprints appear after a while so you'll want to remove it down regularly.


Views: 7 / 10

Bright LED screen and bright colors / accurate. However - I was disappointed by the angle of view when watching the video and find that it takes to sit directly in front of the screen to avoid degradation in image quality. Also, the screen is very reflective, which makes it difficult to use this laptop outdoors or in a position where the light is behind you.

I prefer the higher resolution of 1366 x 768, but I'm aware of these limitations when making a purchase, so no points lost for that. 'Splendid Utilities' Asus which allows you to switch between different color display modes (Normal, Theater, Vibrant, Soft, etc.) seems useless. Everything but the 'Normal' mode is muddy or discolored for me.

All in all I think the view would be fine for most people but not outstanding or memorable thing that stands out from the competition.


Audio: 6 / 10

Like most laptops, the speakers are not too impressive. Audio is loud and there is very little bass when I listen to music or watching movies. The placement of speakers in the front of the chassis tilted down does not help. If you plan on using this laptop for watching movies or listening to music a lot, you will definitely want some high-quality headphones or portable for use.


Speed ??and Performance: 8 / 10

This little guy has handled almost everything I throw at it so far. This stream media from my home server perfectly, without lag or stuttering in the video. Online streaming via Netflix, Hulu, etc. also works great. Windows / Menu / Programs / Media Center is fast to open and everything was very sharp. Photoshop opens quickly and performs well for 4GB of RAM. I encoded a video using the handbrake and performed comparably with my Core2Quad desktop.

Accessing the drive is sometimes slow in explorer when I was multitasking, but there is nothing abnormal or excessive. Review the product description says it has a 7200 rpm, 5400 rpm drive but actually contained in the technical description expanded. I will most likely upgrade to SSD & 8GB of RAM at some point.

There are tons of bloatware installed. I'm actually worried at first because the system ran very slow after the initial boot up and even freeze a few times I tried to delete some crap. However, after a reboot & finally got it all, I updated Windows to SP1 and everything ran fine after that.

I hope they include a real recovery disk with the additional option to abandon the program, rather than store it in a hidden partition as a bundled package. I think just doing a clean installation with one of my Windows disk 7 Professional and purchase a license before an activation key 30 days is up. Although this laptop is running perfectly 95% of the time, there are odd moments where hangs on something, and part of me thinks it is concerned with the behavior of the train I had when trying to remove some bloat. Probably some registry changes are made to interfere. I do not know.


Form Factor & Build Quality: 10/10

Despite its compact size and plastic chassis, this laptop feels solid and well made. I love the black and brushed metal look of fake palm rest and lid. Glossy bezel around the LCD panel attract fingerprints and dust, but looks very sleek / modern when wiping. You can not really see it in the photo, but the plastic around the keyboard has a faint sheen effect that looks cool.

I also like the easy access to drive bays & memory drive - a unique design with Asus chassis. This will make future upgrades much less of a hassle.

Laptop a bit heavier and thicker than I initially wanted, but still feels compact and lightweight enough to tote around comfortably. The overall look was sleek & contemporary, which is exactly what I had in mind for cosmetics.


Webcam: 3 / 10

Webcam worked ok but very low quality. If you use skype or big into video chat online, you'll probably want to go with higher quality, dedicated webcam.


Cooling & Noise: 9 / 10

I was amazed at how cool and quiet laptop is running, especially so because I only see one side of the hole on the chassis and the hole in front of the speakers (which I assume also provide air intake). The bottom is completely solid w / no fan or ventilation (which is what I want), so I expect to run a little warm when placed on the lap or do something more than a casual task. However, although you could feel the warm air out of the hole under moderate to heavy loads - the rest of the chassis stays cool. I do not experience loud fan problem that another reviewer described the battery-saving mode of previous models.


Battery: 9 / 10

Battery is very good. I have not experienced '9 .5 hours advertised, but I only tested under the conditions that I normally would use (browsing, photoshop, online media streaming, etc.). I get about 5-6 hours using casual and about 4 when streaming media or doing something more intense. It's nice that they went with the 8-cell battery instead of 6-normal cells. I'm sure I'll get more if I turn off Wi-Fi and decrease screen brightness.



I am really happy with this laptop and would recommend it to anyone looking for something compact, yet powerful enough to do real work or enjoy streaming media without any lag problems. With compact size and limited ventilation, I would not recommend this for heavy gaming, because I do not see how there can be sufficient airflow to the GPU - but I think it is good for casual use or gaming GPU parents with lower requirements.

All in all I think it is a very well-rounded. Amazon partners with a description of 5 stars "I like it" ... I do ... but there are some drawbacks that prevent me from giving judgments. So the star was removed because of the negative points outlined above, but still a great system.


Generation (Sandy Bridge) CPU 2 I5

Long Battery Life Battery w/8-cell

1333Mhz RAM (vs. 1066MHz more common)

Discrete graphics with 1GB VRAM Dedicated generous

Silent & Cool normal / moderate load

Attractive & Compact Form Factor

Build quality was high overall

Asus warrenty w / 1 Year Accidental Damage is an amazing bonus


No USB 3.0

Max Resolution 1366 x 768

There is no back lighting on the keyboard

Reflective Display

A bit heavier / thicker than comparable 13.3 "laptops

Mediocre Viewing Angle

Description says 7200rpm drives, but actually 5400rpm

Too many non-essential programs & bloat installed

Also, NotebookCheck [dot] com has a great write-ups from this laptop and its predecessor, the Asus U30JC-A1, which I recommend checking out.

::: UPDATE 05/28/2011:::

So I ended up doing a clean install of Windows 7 Pro because I can not get Boxee or XBMC for installing and fed up with the occasional performance lags. After doing a clean install, now I will assess the speed and performance of 9 or 10. I no longer experience random decorations or lagging in speed ... and all my software installed without a problem. Surprisingly, it also looks as if I get one hour more on battery, which I do not understand at all.

It could be that my initial attempt to remove bloatware something messed with the original configuration, which Asus can not be blamed for - but I still feel the amount of additional waste that they have installed can not be accepted.

T. McKendry
This review is from: ASUS U30SD-XA1 13.3-Inch Laptop Thin and Light (Black) (Personal Computers)
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