Asus make a wide range of laptops, from high-end multimedia machines to leather-clad ultraportables. With integrated graphics, a widescreen panel, and the inclusion of a webcam, the A6U (£541 inc. VAT) is aimed at the budget conscious user.
The A6U has a 15.4-inch widescreen, with a 16:9 aspect ratio. It features a standard TFT screen, but the 1280 x 800 (WXGA) screen is bright and clear.
Graphics are handled by the SiS M760 GX adapter, which is an ageing chipset and therefore achieved score of just 204 points in our 3DMark 2003 benchmark. Although suitable for word processing or basic office tasks, the Asus struggles with animated presentations, and gaming is out of the question.
Having a widescreen benefits the Asus in more ways than one; the extra width also creates plenty of room for a good-sized keyboard. The keys are well weighted, making it easy to type at speed with few mistakes. The responsive touchpad has a 16:9 aspect ratio and is flanked by aluminium buttons as seen on more expensive Asus machines.
With dimensions of 353 x 278 x 42mm and a 3.1kg weight, the A6U is not the most portable of machines, but is light enough to carry on a semi-regular basis. Build quality is good - the chassis is robust and the plastics used are sturdy and durable.
Within the chassis you'll find an AMD Turion 64 MT-32 processor, running at 1.8GHz. With 512MB of DDR2 memory and a 80GB hard drive spinning at 5400rpm, the Asus manages a MobileMark 2005 score of 193.
Although this is a low score, performance is close to rival machines, and it's possible to run several applications at the same time without much lag. Under test, the battery lasted 188 minutes, increasing usability for those who decide to take this machine on the road.
The Asus A6U has a 0.35-megapixel webcam and a dual-layer DVD rewriter, proving that it's possible to get features for your £599. Connectivity is improved by the inclusion of a 3-in-1 card reader, and 802.11b/g Wi-Fi enables wireless networks to be configured. A 10/100 Ethernet adapter also enables the A6U to be connected to fixed networks.
Although graphics and general performance trail rival machines, the Asus is still an attractive proposition for under £550. The features list is good, and the battery life makes this laptop more mobile than many. Philip Barker, Michael Browne