According to Asus, the UX series is 'an intricately crafted series of notebooks that provide both contemporary style and effortless computing on the go'. In human speak, that means they're thin and light, look awesome and have funky new components. The UX50V, reviewed here, is being sold by online retailers for around £910.
To say the UX50V is one of the prettier laptops we've seen would be an understatement. We're constantly showing it off to friends and colleagues as if it were some sort of precious newborn child, and -- like the cutest of freshly birthed offspring -- it never fails to elicit a positive response.
It looks like pretty much any other laptop in the world with its lid closed, but, crack it open, and you'll be suitably impressed. We're particular fans of the screen's edge-to-edge glass, the matte black keyboard with isolated buttons, and the highly impractical, but gorgeous, mirror-effect wrist rest.
The isolated keyboard is particularly worthy of praise. It's very comfortable to type on and, although there isn't quite enough travel in the keys, we had no problem getting up to full typing speed. We also love the fact that the keyboard is backlit, making it easy to work at night without turning the lights on, and the presence of a dedicated numerical keypad.
The aforementioned mirror-esque wrist rest is both a gift and a curse. It's fabulous to look at, and comes in handy as a mirror. But, as with all mirrors, it's almost impossible to keep clean. You may have the cleanest wrists in the world, but it'll be filthy within minutes of use. The mouse trackpad, which sports the same finish, gets even filthier, as -- unless you're using a USB mouse -- it'll collect more fingerprints than a forensic scientist.
The UX50V's 15.6-inch, 1,366x768-pixel display does a fabulous impression of a mirror, too. It's one of the most reflective displays we've seen, so, while it provides excellent perceived contrast levels and looks great when playing movies, it's almost impossible to use without also seeing your reflection. This, in conjunction with the mirrored wrist rest, makes the UX50V annoying and somewhat uncomfortable to use, as you're always contending with unwanted reflections.
Asus has tried to keep the UX50V's ports as well-hidden as possible. The right side is home only to a slot-loading DVD drive, while, on the left, you'll find a Wi-Fi on/off switch and -- concealed behind a flap -- a memory card slot and USB port. The rear of the system is more densely populated. Two additional USB ports join a HDMI socket, D-Sub VGA output and Ethernet jack. You'll also find mic and headphone jacks, although their placement at the rear makes them slightly awkward to use.
The UX50V costs a pretty penny, so one might expect it to be fitted with the latest super-fast components. That isn't the case -- it's fitted with the latest super-slow components. It uses a 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Solo SU3500 CPU, which is designed to maximise battery life at the expense of all-out speed. Asus has thrown in a whopping 4GB of RAM, however, which helps applications launch relatively quickly and keeps the system running smoothly.
The UX50V's graphics system is pretty fancy. It uses both an Nvidia GeForce G105M graphics adaptor and an integrated Intel graphics chip, and can cycle between the pair, depending on the user's needs. The latter is designed for casual use and helps maximise battery life, while the former offers -- and consumes -- significantly more power.