The Asus U2E (£1199 inc. VAT) is the successor to last year's U1 ultraportable.

Its style, tiny chassis and outstanding battery life make it perfect for business and consumer travellers, but the awkward usability and low-performance disappoint.

Highly portable laptop

It is quite a portable laptops and weighs just 1.3kg. The chassis is finished in a choice of brown or black leather, with stainless steel used throughout. It is both stylish and resilient, but the leather finish will divide opinion.

A standard and long-life battery is included. The standard battery runs for 145 minutes, which is poor compared to its rivals. However, the long-life battery keeps you working for 310 minutes, so between them you can easily keep working for a whole day.

Flawed usability

The keyboard is well-fixed and comfortable to use, but the keys are small. An unusual layout also hinders usability. For instance, the Shift and Page Up keys on the right-hand side are placed directly next to each other, which leads to frequent errors.

The brightness and contrast of the 11.1-inch Super-TFT screen fail to impress. The 1366 x 768-pixel resolution is sharp and makes it easy to work with several windows open at once. This is a high resolution for such a small screen, however, which can strain your eyes.

When working at home or in the office, you can connect to larger analogue and High Definition (HD) screens using the VGA and HDMI-out ports. A VGA-to-DVI adapter cable is also included for connecting to non-HD digital screens and projectors.

Impressive feature set

Performance is average. The Ultra-Low Voltage Intel processor allows for the most basic use. 3D performance is better, and provides enough power for photo and video editing and even lets you play basic games when out and about.

Storage is where the Asus excels. The 120GB hard drive is excellent for such a small laptop and will store all your business and family files. A dual-layer DVD rewriter also lets you create your own CDs and save up to 8.5GB of data to compatible DVDs.

Extra features include a built-in camera above the screen, a fingerprint scanner for protecting your data, and aBluetooth mouse. A two-year warranty is also included. Although bettered by some rivals in this group, this adds strong peace of mind for consumers.

If its style suits your taste, the Asus U2E holds its own against its rivals. However, the awkward usability, love it or hate it screen and the need to carry two batteries to enjoy above-average mobility are worth considering before buying.