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Asus' 13-inch UL30 Windows 7 laptop may have one of the longest-lasting batteries of any portable we've seen, promising up to 12 hours of use away from the mains. Last night, we got to play with one in person.

One contributor to the battery's long life is the ultra-low-voltage Intel Core 2 Duo processor that Asus has chosen. Such chips are designed to eat less power inside laptops, while still performing well.

In addition, the UL30 has 4GB of speedy DDR3 RAM and a 320GB hard disk, although it only has integrated graphics processing from Intel (a larger, 15-inch version, the UL50, offers discrete graphics from Nvidia). It also has 802.11n Wi-Fi, an HDMI output, three USB sockets, an integrated webcam, Bluetooth and the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium.


When we were playing with the UL30, we made three notes, underlined. Firstly, the chiclet keyboard is very similar to those on Apple's new MacBooks. Secondly, the trackpad is way too small, and its slightly perforated texture is just annoying. Thirdly, the brushed aluminium lid feels really smart, and adds a lush feel to an already well-designed laptop.

You may have noticed we haven't mentioned an optical drive. That's because the UL30 doesn't have one, which partly explains why it's so thin. It also weighs a pretty comfortable 1.7kg. By comparison, the latest white MacBook weighs 2.1kg.

We like the UL30. It'll be on sale from 22 October for an attractive £600 or so. It'll also be offered for free as part of a wireless-broadband contract with Carphone Warehouse. We'll be putting that battery through its paces in our full review, which you can expect soon. Check out the extra photos over the page.

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Here's the lid partly closed.
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Here we're using the tiny trackpad that annoys us so much.
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Behold the chiclet keyboard.
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This is the view from the left-hand side. Notice the slightly curved edge on the chassis.
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The right-hand side features a number of ports.
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Here's a better view of the screen.
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The lid looks much better in person.
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