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Small and fast, but too sparkly
- Fast CPU, built-in 3G antennas and SIM card reader, 250GB hard drive
- Poor battery life, uncomfortable touchpad buttons
While it has a fast CPU and good features, such as built-in 3G connectivity, the U6Sg is let down by poor battery life. This is a major drawback for a unit that's pitched at style-conscious road warriors. If considering this unit, you should either opt for the slower CPU, or the larger, 9-cell battery.
Price$ 2,999.00 (AUD)
The sparkly lid and the leather palm-rest might turn users away from the ASUS U6Sg, despite its processing power and the 3G capabilities that lurk beneath its surface. It runs an Intel Core 2 Duo T-series CPU, instead of a low (L-series) or ultra-low voltage (U-series) CPU, so you definitely get a lot of speed from its small frame. This makes it a good option for people who want a fast yet very mobile unit that can be carried comfortably to and from work.
Because it has a 12.1in screen, you can easily use the U6Sg while travelling on public transport, and its keyboard and palm-rest are comfortable to use in this scenario. Of course, if you plan on doing a lot of typing throughout the day, then you probably should plug in a full-sized keyboard for your own comfort. There isn't an option for a docking station or port replicator, but the unit does have an ExpressCard slot, which allows you to use an after-market dock such as Belkin's High Speed Docking Station.
What isn't comfortable to use is the touchpad, whose left- and right-click buttons are so stiff you'll need to push down relatively hard in order to make them click. This is especially uncomfortable during drag-and-drop operations.
Its screen has a native resolution of 1280x800 and it uses LED backlighting rather than cold cathode fluorescent tubes. The screen displays good, albeit toned-down colour, good clarity and relatively consistent brightness. Even though it's a glossy screen, we had no problems viewing it under the lights of an office environment, as reflections were minimal, but while watching movies we did notice that the screen's viewing angles are very narrow.
The benefits of LED backlighting are that it's more environmentally friendly than fluorescent backlighting, due to the lack of mercury, and that it consumes less power, meaning you should get more battery life out of the laptop than you would if it ran a fluorescent screen.
The U6Sg actually ships with two batteries; one is a small, 3-cell, 2400mAh-rated battery that sits flush against the base, while the other is a bigger, 6-cell, 4800mAh-rated battery that sticks out of the back by about 2cm. The laptop weighs 1.75kg with the 6-cell battery, but it almost doubles the longevity of the laptop compared to the smaller battery. Looping a DVD with the screen set to its maximum brightness and using the 6-cell battery, the laptop lasted 1hr 35min. This isn't a good result for an ultraportable, and it's an average result for a laptop that uses an Intel Core 2 Duo T9300 CPU and a dedicated NVIDIA GeForce 9300M G graphics chip. There is a 9-cell battery available, which should add another hour or so to the laptop's life away from an outlet.
The CPU and graphics chip, along with 2GB of DDR2 RAM and a 250GB hard drive, produced an overall score of 90 in our WorldBench 6 tests, which means you'll easily be able to multitask, run Photoshop and even do some video encoding. The graphics card is capable of rendering 3-D scenes, but only basic ones. You won't be able to play many games on the U6Sg, unless they are of the vintage variety.
But gaming isn't the point of this laptop. Its features are tailored towards mobile warriors who require fast performance, plenty of connectivity options and mobile Internet access. We've already discussed the performance; the connectivity options include four USB 2.0 ports, HDMI and D-Sub ports, Gigabit Ethernet, a 56Kbps modem, and 802.11a/b/g/n wireless. It also has built-in 3G/3.5G antennas and a SIM card reader. For security you can use its fingerprint reader or set up a face scan using the built-in webcam, which can be fun but not always practical, especially in low-light situations.
To access the SIM card reader, you must remove the battery first. You can then log-in to your account with the pre-installed ASUS 3G Watcher utility. The integration of the SIM card reader and the 3G antennas make the ASUS U6Sg very versatile, but we can't help but feel that the T9300 CPU is overkill. We'd recommend going for a model with a slower CPU, such as the Core 2 Duo T5550, especially if all you'll be doing is running office applications, checking e-mail and browsing the Web. This should get you more life out of the unit's batteries, which is essential if you want this laptop to be a useful tool while you're on the road.
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