The Asus U1F-1P016E is a true ultraportable that weighs 2.7 pounds and tapers in the front of the case to a thin five-eighths of an inch tall. A lustrous black lid and real leather palm rest add to its appeal. So what's not to like? The speed and keyboard layout are so-so, the optical drive isn't built in, and the US$2199 price (as of 6/6/07) is high.
Though lacking a built-in DVD burner, the U1F-1P016E is otherwise well designed. The unit feels solid, and the hard drive is shock-mounted on foam railings. It has both SD and ExpressCard slots, three USB ports, a FireWire port, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless communications, a fingerprint reader, and even a basic 0.3-megapixel integrated Webcam. The 11.1-inch screen is small but remarkably bright thanks to LED backlighting, and it is as easy to read in direct sunlight as it is under fluorescent lighting.
The keyboard layout is good except for the placement of the small Shift key on the right side of the Up arrow key instead of on the left. This arrangement will frequently cause touch typists to move the cursor up a line instead of capitalizing a letter.
The ultra-low-voltage 1.06-GHz Core Duo U2400 processor, paired with a slow 4200-rpm 80GB hard drive and 1536MB of RAM, didn't win any speed contests in our tests. Our test unit earned a WorldBench 6 Beta 2 score of 44--but that's still zippy enough for e-mail, word processing, and other light work.
Battery life could be very good with an upgrade. The U1F-1P016E comes with two batteries, a 2400-mAh (three-cell) battery and a 4800-mAh (six-cell) battery. We tested with the six-cell battery, which lasted 3 hours, 42 minutes, a below-average time among currently tested ultraportables. For extra oomph, think outside the box and opt for the nine-cell sold for about $150 extra on the Asus site; this battery lasted 6 hours, 15 minutes during earlier tests on an identically configured U1F.
All in all, the Asus U1F-1P016E is a better-than-average choice for anyone who needs to get light work done wherever there's a Wi-Fi connection. It's ultralight and pretty, and it has a great little screen. People who need power, an optical drive, and a touch-type friendly keyboard, however, should opt for a larger ultraportable.