Many laptops claim to be super-slim and light, but Asus claims its U36Jc is the slimmest and lightest with a standard voltage processor.
Its 0.76-inch thick chassis weighs just 3.7 pounds, but there’s no compromising either performance or battery life , unlike some other ultra thin notebooks. Granted, the ASUS U36Jc has no optical drive, but it wields an impressive array of hardware – an Intel Core i5-460M processor, NVidia GeForce 310M graphics, 4GB of RAM, a USB 3.0 port and a huge (for an ultraportable) 500GB 7200 rpm hard drive. And all this for just $969.
The Intel processors are still the Nehalem variety, but there are plenty of reasons to make the Asus U36Jc our ultraportable of choice. The all-black design of the U36Jc is businesslike rather than plain, and the exterior is completely covered in matte black, but fear not, the lid and palmrest have been treated with a ‘silky nanometer coating’ intended to keep them fingerprint-free. The lid has been, according to Asus, “strengthened with aluminum alloy finish”. The most striking part of the ASUS U36Jc is its slimness – it measures just 0.76 inches thick.
The Asus U36Jc weighs just 3.7 pounds, so it’s truly portable. The 13-inch MacBook Air might be thinner and lighter still, but the U36Jc socket selection wins hands down, thanks to two USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0 socket, a three-in-one card reader, Ethernet, VGA, HDMI, and mic and headphone jacks.
While the chiclet keyboard is acceptable, it loses out to more solid-feeling ones found on the HP Envy or the HP Pavilion. Excess travel and click don’t make for optimal typing. The Asus U36Jc’s mouse bar is stiff and noisy, making it annoying to use, although you can just double-tap on the 3.5 x 2 inch pad to select.
The 1366 x 768 resolution display sits nicely above the keyboard to give a comfortable typing experience, and viewing angles for the glossy display were quite satisfactory, even good.
The speakers are sufficiently loud, and less tinny than those found on most netbooks. Anyone looking for mind-blowing notebook speakers should look at the Dell XPS line. Sadly, Asus has discontinued the webcam cover, so the 1.3mp webcam sits nakedly above the screen. We hoped it might find widespread adoption, so that people could choose when and if to potentially appear across the Internet.
Performance wise, the standard-voltage 2.53GHz Core i5 M460 processor and 4GB RAM help the Asus U36Jc outperform the low-voltage ultraportables on the market. All this results in very lively performance – the Asus U36Jc breezed through multiple browsers with multiple tabs open, TweetDeck, Word 2010, Trillian and Skype all without a glitch. The 7200rpm hard drive helps programs launch rapidly.
The dedicated GPU can be switched off to conserve power, and thanks to NVidia’s Optimus technology the notebook will automatically switch between integrated GMA HD graphics and the GeForce 310M GPU. Even some mainstream games were playable on the U36Jc – World of Warcraft at 30fps – and streaming and local 1080p video both ran smoothly.
Thin laptops using standard voltage components often get too hot to be used on the lap, and during heavyish use the underside of the U36Jc got very warm, but not enough to be a deal-breaker.
NVidia’s Optimus contributes a good deal to battery life. On a looping video test (standard definition, 65% brightness) the eight-cell battery gives four and a half hours’ service. That’s roughly the same as the Toshiba Portege R705, but less than ultra-low voltage machines such as the Asus UL50Vf. The battery on the Asus U36Jc is replaceable.
Asus bundles a good selection of its own software with the U36Jc, including WebStorage, e-Driver, and LifeFrame. For $969 the Asus U36Jc represents very respectable ultraportable performance with five hours of moderate-use battery life in a well-designed package.
Let’s take a look at some more Asus U36Jc pictures:
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