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Asus U45Jc-A1 Product Reviews

High Technology Product Reviews | Trends and News | Asus U45Jc-A1 Product Reviews
Asus has the chops to make an outstanding laptop, as it proven with the U30Jc-A1 ($899 street, 4.5 stars)—a 13-inch lightweight that is powerful, sexy, and battery efficient. Its latest offering, the Asus U45Jc-A1 ($867 street), bumps the screen size to a 14-inch widescreen, while retaining all the goodies that made its smaller sibling so successful. A sleek metallic frame, Nvidia switchable graphics, and over 9 hours of battery life are just the tip of the iceberg. Thus, the U30Jc-A1 passes the torch to the U45Jc-A1, making the latter the new Editors' Choice in the mainstream category, and one of the best laptops I've tested.

Specifications
------------------
Type
General Purpose, Media
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium
Processor Speed
2.4 GHz
Processor Name
Intel Core i3-370M
RAM
4 GB
Weight
4.7 lb
Screen Size
14 inches
Screen Size Type
widescreen
Graphics Card
Intel GMA HD
2nd Graphics Card
nVidia GeForce 310M
Storage Capacity (as Tested)
500 GB
Networking Options
802.11n
Primary Optical Drive
Dual-Layer DVD+/-RW
Design
Design is the first indicator of quality, and nothing embodies quality like brushed aluminum metal. Like the U30Jc-A1, the U45Jc-A1 uses the material on the lid and palm rest area. Among other metal-clad laptops, its design aesthetic ranks right up there with the Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (Core 2 Duo 2.4GHz) ($1,199 direct, 4 stars) and HP Pavilion dm4-1160us (review coming shortly). And it's fancier-looking than the decorated plastics used by the Dell Inspiron 14R ($820 direct, 3 stars) and Lenovo IdeaPad Y460 ($1,049 direct, 4 stars). Even with the bigger screen, the U45Jc-A1 (4.7 lbs) weighs the same as the U30Jc-A1 with its 13-inch screen (4.7 lbs), though it's not the lightest in the 14-inch space—the HP dm4-1160us, at 4.4 pounds, owns that distinction.

The U45Jc-A1's 14-inch widescreen is one size bigger than the ones found in the MacBook Pro 13-inch and U30Jc-A1—roughly an extra two column's worth in Microsoft Office Excel. Whether it has a 13- or 14-inch screen, resolution is usually capped at 1,366 by 768 in the mainstream laptop category. Higher-end laptops, like the HP Envy 14 ($1,286 direct, 4 stars), will let you bump the resolution to 1,600 by 900. Asus is a big proponent of the chiclet-style keyboard, in which every key is isolated from one other. The U45Jc-A1's full-size one is responsive and comfortable. The mouse buttons, though, aren't as soft and as quiet as those found in the Dell 14R and Lenovo Y460.

Features
Asus also made sure every feature is accounted for. Like all of its peers, the U45Jc-A1 includes a DVD burner. You'll have to buy a 15-inch laptop to get luxuries like a Blu-ray drive, though. It comes with current technologies like HDMI and eSATA ports, as well as old-school ones like VGA, Ethernet, and a 5-in-1 card reader. The 500GB, 5,400rpm hard drive is bigger than the Asus U30Jc-A1's 320GB drive, though it doesn't spin as fast as the 7200rpm one found in the HP dm4-1160us (500GB).

Performance
Asus is a component powerhouse, and it's in this department that the U45Jc-A1 really shines. Its 2.4GHz Intel Core i3-370M processor is a notch above the one found in the Asus U30Jc-A1 (Core i3-350M) and Dell 14R (Core i3-350M). The HP dm4-1160us and Lenovo Y460 have Core i5 processors, so they are bit faster. You get the standard 4GB of DDR3 memory, which, combined with the processor, beat out the Asus U30Jc-A1 and Dell 14R in PCMark Vantage tests (5,361). It trailed the HP dm4-1160us by a hair in the Handbrake test (3 minutes 2 seconds vs. 2:52 for the HP dm4-1160us), Photoshop CS5 (5:46 vs. 5:18), and Cinebench 11.5 (2.14 vs 2.17) tests, although these margins mean little in the real world.

The U45Jc-A1 may not have the fastest processor in this group, but it gave up a little speed to gain something that the HP dm4-1160us lacks—graphics power. Video editors, casual gamers, and avid HD enthusiasts can reap the benefits of a discrete Nvidia Geforce 310M graphics chip. It's better than the integrated graphics found in the HP dm4-1160us, though not powerful enough to be considered a true gaming machine. Furthermore, the U45Jc-A1 can switch to its integrated graphics chipset, with Nvidia's Optimus technology. The automatic graphics switch is seamless and doesn't require any software tweaks from the user.

A powerful mainstream laptop wouldn't be complete without good battery life. Laptops like the Dell 14R and Lenovo Y460 have powerful parts, but didn't provide a big enough battery to last through a coast-to-coast flight. Like the Asus U30Jc-A1, the U45Jc-A1 brought on board a huge 84WH battery, thus toppling its competitors in MobileMark 2007 tests. Its score of 9 hours 27 minutes is clearly the most superior among the Dell 14R (3:31), Lenovo Y460 (4:52), and HP dm4-1160us (5:30).

Awards aren't won by besting the competition in one or two areas; a laptop has to excel at everything and look good while doing it. The Asus U45Jc-A1 literally puts the pedal to the metal. It delivers a look that is as classy as the MacBook Pro and HP dm4-1160us. But overall performance is where it truly shines, thanks to Nvidia's switchable graphics technology and unprecedented battery scores in the mainstream category.

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