Although Asus may not yet be a household name in the UK, it manufactures some excellent laptops, and the U53JC-RX080V is one of them.
Costing less than many of the other machines, it provides impressive performance and excellent portability, with only its flawed usability slightly letting the side down.
The key to any ultraportable laptop is portability, and this laptop offers bucket loads. The 1.8kg weight may not be as light as the Lenovo IdeaPad U160, but is comfortable enough for regular travel, while the 444-minute battery life is excellent, providing over seven hours of power between charges.
This is also a very powerful laptop, and the machine boasts Intel's latest processing power in the form of a Core i3 processor. In fact, it offers nearly as much performance as the Toshiba, which features a processor from the higher-specified Core i5 range.
Graphically the laptop may not be as powerful as the Apple MacBook 13-inch, but there isn't much in it and you'll have no trouble editing high-definition videos and even enjoying a bit of gaming, which is impossible with the other machines.
The laptop boasts Nvidia's Optimus technology, which aims to improve the battery life of laptops with dedicated graphics cards.
There's a 320GB hard drive in place, but there's no optical drive for reading or writing CDs and DVDs, although this is to be expected in such a small laptop.
Build quality is generally good. The laptop's lid features a very smart brushed-aluminium finish that provides decent protection for the screen within.
The 13.3-inch panel is great. It can't match the Apple for clarity or colour vibrancy, but still makes your movies and photos look great. A shiny Super-TFT coating is in place and produces distracting reflections in bright light – so not great if you work on the train, for example.
The laptop's chassis features an attractive weave design, but we prefer the metal simplicity of the Apple.
The keyboard is the only disappointing part of the machine. It's not nearly as poor as the Toshiba's offering, but remains overly spongy, and we certainly recommend trying out this machine before you buy, to make sure you are comfortable with the action the laptop provides when typing.
Aside from the keyboard, we were extremely impressed by the Asus U35JC-RX080V. Performance is excellent, and portability is the best here – beating some big names to the title. Yet the laptop remains cheaper than most of its competitors and, therefore, offers great value for money.
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