CNET First Look
Asus U36JcThe thin, powerful Asus U36Jc-A1 packs a lot of computer under its slim 13-inch hood, but some might want to wait for next-gen Intel processors to sweeten the deal.
-Hi, I'm Scott Stein, Senior Associate Editor at CNET.com, and this is the Asus U36J. It is a thin 13-inch laptop that, I was hoping, frankly, would set my world on fire a little bit more than it did, but I'll explain why it didn't in just a few moments. I love 13-inch laptops. I love the thin 13-inch laptops. Why? Because I believe that laptops should be portable. And while 17-inch laptops, they can do everything, sound like a lot of fun, to me, they're really not especially for the battery life compromises that often have to be made. Usually in this size, you have some great battery life and you also have some nice performance that you can't find in netbooks. The Asus U36J is actually kind of an update to the U35J, which I loved last year. We gave it a 4-star review on CNET. And this is an upgraded processor, and Intel Core i5. That's a full standard Core i5 processor, really nice and fast. It even comes with graphics. It's got NVIDIA GeForce 310M graphics that are Optimus enabled. That means they're automatically switching theoretically to save a little bit of battery life. That sounds great, right? Well, there's one thing that's a little bit of a caveat which is, at CES 2011, we saw a lot of talk about these Sandy Bridge processors, which are Intel's next generation processors, that are really gonna be perfect for this range of laptop because they're gonna have integrated graphics that are about as good as the graphics that NVIDIA put in to this. Bottom line, we don't know how those will perform but we have a feeling they're gonna do pretty well. They should perform even better in processor functions and then maybe even have a battery life boost. But it's still theoretical at this point, but considering this should be coming out pretty soon, you may wanna hold back on getting a laptop like this that has a last gen processor in it. But aside from that, if you really wanna go get a thin laptop, this is not a bad choice. It's got a USB 3.0 port, which is a nice new port for high-speed data transfer, doesn't have an optical drive, but does have Bluetooth, which is nice. And it comes in about $999, which is a little bit on the high end, but it's not bad considering everything that it's got included with it, including a 500-gig high-speed 7200 rpm hard drive and 4 gigs of RAM. The U36J is-- is really nice and thin, and it is also lightweight as well. But it's a little bit angular in design. We're not sure-- I'm not sure everybody would love that look. It has a sleek black metal matte finish to it. The track pad is not a click pad, but it controls nicely. It has a rocker button bar, not our favorite. The keyboard feels great however. It's a nice full chiclet-style keyboard that feels great to type on. And one little design problem we have with this that we've seen before, Asus, come on, there are 2 power-button-type buttons on this-- on the top here. They both look like power buttons. It's extremely confusing. This one actually is the power button. This one launches a quick start OS instead of Windows 7, which supposedly boots the laptop a little bit faster. It does, but most people don't even know about quick start OS and honestly, if you put your laptop to sleep and start it back up, you're gonna be doing that a lot faster than you would be using quick start. Overall, it's really good. It's just with that news about the new processor makes us hold back a little bit. I'm Scott Stein and this is the Asus U36J.