Asus released its first bamboo laptop featuring a tough wood-based chassis back in 2008, and now it has given us a peek at its latest plant-based portable, the Asus U53F Bamboo.
The chassis is immediately striking with the entire lid and palmrest coated in bamboo. Not only does it look great with a natural, grainy appearance, but it's also pleasingly firm to protect the display. The chassis shows no flex at all under pressure and the wood covering reduces plastics usage by 20 per cent.
A weight approaching 3kg limits mobility, but the surprisingly thin chassis can be fitted into a briefcase if required.
The bamboo design even stretches to the touchpad, with the surface of the pad and the mouse buttons given the same textured finish. The pad is smooth, responsive and wide, and usability is further enhanced by an excellent isolation style keyboard with the keys pushed up through individual holes in the chassis.
The gaps between keys mean it's difficult to hit the wrong key by mistake, and we managed some impressive speeds when touch-typing. The separate numeric keypad is a little small, however – we would have preferred a keyboard that stretched the entire length of the chassis to give these keys some extra width.
The bright and colourful 15.6-inch widescreen display is a pleasure to watch movies on. This pre-production model sadly doesn't have a Full HD display to take full advantage of the built-in Blu-ray drive, but hopefully the final product will.
The screen is somewhat reflective thanks to the glossy Super-TFT coating, but it's not as noticeable at top brightness levels.
Our pre-production model came fitted with an Intel Core i5 520M processor, which provides more than enough power to comfortably multi-task with a number of resource-intensive applications. The final product will apparently offer a choice of Core i3, Core i5 or Core i7 CPUs, so performance should be assured.
Unfortunately, there's no dedicated graphics, just an integrated Intel GPU, but this may change in the final release.
Other features are standard for a machine like this, with VGA and HDMI connections for outputting to an external display, three USB ports for adding peripherals, and a memory card reader for backing up the 500GB hard drive.
Users can also boot up to a basic ExpressGate OS to browse the web or their photo library, which prolongs battery life.
We're looking forward to seeing the full release of the Asus U53F Bamboo, as this pre-production model is a slickly designed and solidly built home laptop.
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