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Asus UL30A & Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 13 CULV Notebooks

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The Asus UL30A and Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 13 are modern 13.3″ CULV laptops similar in size and horsepower, but with distinctly disparate personalities. The UL30A has broad consumer appeal, while the Edge 13 upholds its workhorse legacy without the usual drab sobriety of the ThinkPad line.

March 9, 2010 by Lawrence Lee

Product Asus UL30A Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 13
Manufacturer ASUSTeK Lenovo
Street Price US$700~$730 US$799~$899

Intel’s CULV (Consumer Ultra-Low Voltage) processors are low power chips that
help bridge the performance and battery life gap between netbooks and mainstream
laptops. Take the Core 2 Duo SU7300 as an example. While it runs at only 1.3GHz
(standard notebooks typically have CPUs clocked at 2GHz+), the SU7300 has a
thermal design power of only 10W. The mainstream T6000 series, now common in
most lower-priced notebooks, is much harder on battery life as it is rated for
35W. A machine running a SU7300 doesn’t need as big a battery, and its lower
power draw allows the cooling system and surrounding chassis to be smaller.
The only tradeoff is processing power, though even at 1.3GHz, it is much faster
than any Atom-based solution, fast enough not to bog during the tasks that most
notebook users perform routinely.

We previously reviewed the SU7300 powered Asus
UL80Vt
which could switch between a discrete Nvidia video card and the
integrated Intel graphics, and we were greatly impressed by its slender profile
and ridiculously longbattery life. However, with a 14″ screen and a weight
of 4.4lb, it’s a heavyweight by today’s portability standards. This time around
we have a pair of SU7300 laptops from Asus and Lenovo with 13.3″ screens.
This is a size we consider to be in the sweet spot, a good balance between high
mobility and usable screen/keyboard size. Both are about one inch thick and
weigh in at approximately four pounds. They have the same functionality and
features as most larger notebooks, except they lack an optical drive, which
is becoming decreasingly important in the digital age.



The Asus UL30A.

The Asus UL30A is a sleek looking silver machine. Physically, it resembles
the UL80Vt, but smaller, and only the keys, screen and bezel are black. It also
has a solid brush aluminum cover behind the screen rather than plastic, so it’s
sturdier and less likely to get scratched and/or smudged. For those who would
prefer discrete/switchable graphics, Asus also offers themore expensive UL30Vt.



The Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 13.

The ThinkPad line from IBM/Lenovo is well known for their utilitarian appearance
and rigid construction. The Edge 13 is bit of a departure, as both the top cover
and screen are glossy, the corners are rounded, and the color scheme is a fetching
blend of black with silver trim — it actually looks attractive! Once the
screen is popped open, ThinkPad fans are greeted with a firm, but non-rubberized
matte finish palm rest, a big comfortable keyboard, and the familiar plain-looking
trackpad and signature red pointing stick.

Specifications
Model Asus UL30A* Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 13
Display
13.3″, 1366×768, glossy LED-backlit
CPU
Intel® Core™ 2 Duo SU7300 Processor
(1.30GHz, 800MHz FSB, 3MB L2 cache, 10W)
Chipset
Intel GS45 Express
Graphics
Intel GMA 4500MHD
Memory
4GB DDR3 PC3-8500
Storage
320GB 5400RPM
Optical Drive
No
Networking 10/100 ethernet, 802.11n Gigabit ethernet, 802.11n, WiMAX, WWAN
+ GPS
Bluetooth
No Bluetooth Version 2.1 + EDR
Webcam
0.3 megapixel (640×480)
Card Reader
5-in-1
Trackpad
ELAN multi-gesture touchpad Multi-gesture touchpad with TrackPoint
Battery
8-cell 5600 mAh 84Wh 6-cell 5600 mAh 63Wh
Physical Dimensions (measured)
32.1 x 23.0 x 1.9~2.4 cm (W x D x H)
1.80kg (4.0lb)
32.1 x 22.7 x 1.9~2.6 cm (W x D x H)
1.78kg (3.9lb)
Operating System
Windows 7 Home Premium 64* Windows 7 Professional 64
Retail Price ~$699 ~$899
*Our sample was a UL30A-A1 with Vista Home Premium; this
model has
now been replaced with the UL30A-A2, the exact same
machine but with Windows 7. The UL30A was tested with Windows 7 to remove
the operating system as a testing variable.

As you can see the two laptops have very similar specifications, but the ThinkPad
configuration we received is top-of-the-line, placing emphasis on connectivity
with built-in gigabit ethernet (the Asus surprisingly only has 10/100 ethernet),
WiMAX, 3G with GPS, and Bluetooth, driving up the price to $900, $200 higher
than the UL30A. Lenovo sells a more comparable configuration to the UL30A for
$800 that includes gigabit ethernet, 802.11n, and Bluetooth only. AMD variants
of the Edge, powered by Neo X2 processors, start at $580, but they are slower
and less energy efficient compared to Intel’s CULV chips.

PHYSICAL DETAILS – Asus UL30A

The UL30A measures 32.1 x 23.0cm with an average thickness of 2.4cm not including
the feet. The entire machine weighs in at 1.80kg (3.96lb) with the battery weighing
440g alone.


The UL30A.

 


The main exhaust vent is located on the right side along with VGA and
HDMI outputs as well as a single USB port. The majority of the machine
is less than one inch (2.54cm) thick but the feet raise it up to 2.8cm
at the center and 3.1cm at the thickest point near the hinges.

 


The left side is home to a 5-in-1 memory card reader, mic and line-out
ports, two USB connectors, and the RJ45 and AC jacks.


A pair of moderately-sized speakers resides underneath the lip of the
UL30A.

 


The memory and hard drive are accessible.

 


The UL30A ships with a long lasting 84Wh battery.

 


The AC adapter outputs 19V.

SCREEN & PERIPHERALS – Asus UL30A

The UL30A features a LED-backlit 13.3″ 1366×768 screen, 0.3 megapixel
webcam, and multi-gesture touchpad.


The UL30A has two large, sturdy hinges on the outside securing the screen,
but they have limited rotation.

 


The LCD can be pushed back about 50 degrees past perpendicular.

 


The screen, surrounding bezel, palm rest, pretty much everything on the
inside has a glossy finish except for the keys.

 


The UL series has a unique dimpled touchpad design and a single, long
button.

 


The keyboard has an island style design. It has a small right shift to
make way for large directional keys.

PHYSICAL DETAILS – Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 13

The Edge 13 measures 32.1 x 22.7cm, slightly less deep than the UL30A, but
its thicker overall at 2.6cm (except at the lip). It weighs in at 1.78kg (3.92lb)
with the battery weighing 350g on its own.


The Edge 13 resembles Apple’s Macbook as it is slightly over one inch
thick, has rounded corners and a generally boxy appearance.

 


The left side is home to the main exhaust vent, a Kensington lock slot,
and singular USB, RJ45, HDMI, and VGA connectors. The battery props up
the machine, increasing the height at the very back to 3.8cm.

 


Located on the right side is the AC power connector, a pair of USB ports,
a headphone jack and card reader.

 


The underside. Notice the very small speakers under the lip.


The interior.

 


Our sample shipped with a 63Wh battery.

 


The AC adapter is a 65W, 20V model.

SCREEN & PERIPHERALS – Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 13

The Edge 13 features a LED-backlit 13.3″ 1366×768 screen, 0.3
megapixel webcam, multi-gesture touchpad and trackpoint.


The Edge 13 has two power LEDs on the dots of the ‘I’ in the ThinkPad
monograms located on the outside cover and right palm rest. They glow
bright red when the system is on and blink when sleeping. There is no
hard drive or WiFi status LED.

 


The hinges are small but sturdy.

 


The screen can be pushed back slightly beyond 180 degrees.

 


The screen is glossy, but the rest of the interior has a matte finish.

 


Like previous ThinkPads it has both a trackpad and an old school pointing
stick.

 


The Edge 13’s keyboard also has an island style layout, but the gaps between
the keys are kept to a minimum. The keys themselves are noticeably large
for a laptop.

TEST METHODOLOGY

Notebooks Compared:

Gateway EC1803h:

Asus UL80Vt:

Asus UL30A:

Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 13:


Our UL30A sample shipped with a Seagate Momentus 5400.6 hard drive and
Atheros ethernet (10/100 only) and 802.11n adapters.

 


Our ThinkPad Edge 13 sample shipped with a Fujitsu hard drive, a Realtek
gigabit NIC, Intel WiMAX and 802.11n adapters, and a Qualcomm 3G card.

Measurement and Analysis Tools

H.264/VC-1 Video Test Clips

H.264 and VC-1 are codecs commonly used in high definition movie videos on
the web (like Quicktime movie trailers and the like) and also in Blu-ray discs.
To play these clips, we use Cyberlink PowerDVD with hardware acceleration turned
on, naturally.


1080p | 24fps | ~10mbps
1080p H.264:
Rush Hour 3 Trailer 2c
is a 1080p clip encoded in H.264
inside an Apple Quicktime container.

 


1080p | 24fps | ~8mbps
WMV-HD:
Coral Reef Adventure Trailer
is encoded in VC-1 using the
WMV3 codec commonly recognized by the “WMV-HD” moniker.

 

x264/MKV Video Test Clips

MKV (Matroska) is a very popular online multimedia container
used for high definition content, usually using x264 (a free, open source
H.264 encoder) for video. The clips were taken from two longer videos —
the most demanding one minute portions were used. To play them we use Media
Player Classic Home Cinema, configured in the most suitable manner depending
on the GPU. For Intel/ATI graphics the player is configured to use DXVA
(DirectX Video Acceleration), for Nvidia graphics we use CoreAVC to enable
CUDA (Compute Unified Device Architecture) support, and for those that support
neither, CoreAVC is used with default settings, which renders using CPU
power alone.


1080p | 24fps | ~14mbps

x264 1080p: Spaceship is a 1080p x264 clip encoded from
the Blu-ray version of an animated short film. It features a hapless
robot trying to repair a lamp on a spaceship.

 


1080p | 24fps | ~22mbps

x264 1080p: Crash is a 1080p x264 clip encoded from the
Blu-ray version of an science fiction film. It features the aftermath
of a helicopter crash.

Flash Video Test Clip

Many users watch media online in Adobe’s Flash format on sites
like Hulu and YouTube. Now that the latest 10.1 beta version of Flash supports
GPU acceleration, only slower systems like those powered by a single core
Atom without a proper IGP struggle with Flash in HD. Our test clip is a
HD movie trailer from YouTube played in Firefox.


1280×544 | 25fps | ~2mbps

Flash HD: Iron
Man Trailer #1
is the first trailer from the feature film
of the same name. It’s a YouTube HD video, though technically it
is not quite 720p.

 

Real-world Benchmark Test Details

  • Eset NOD32: In-depth virus scan of a folder containing 32 files of
    varying size, several of which are archives with many files within them..
  • WinRAR: Archive creation with a folder containing 68 files of varying
    size (less than 50MB).
  • iTunes: Conversion of an MP3 file to AAC (48KHz, 256kbps).
  • TMPGEnc Xpress: Encoding a 1-minute long XVID AVI file to VC-1 (1280×720,
    30fps, 20mbps).

Our first test procedure is designed to determine the overall system power
consumption at various states (measured using a Seasonic Power Angel). To stress
CPUs we use either Prime95 (large FFTs setting) or CPUBurn depending on which
produces higher system power consumption. To stress the IGP, we use FurMark,
an OpenGL benchmarking and stability testing utility.

Our second test procedure is to run the system through a video test suite featuring
a variety of high definition clips. During playback, a CPU usage graph is created
by the Windows Task Manger for analysis to determine the average CPU usage.
High CPU usage is indicative of poor video decoding ability. If the video (and/or
audio) skips or freezes, we conclude the IGP (in conjunction with the processor)
is inadequate to decompress the clip properly. Power consumption during playback
of high definition video is also recorded.

Lastly, we run a short series of performance benchmarks — a few real-world
applications as well as synthetic tests.

All nonessential pre-installed software is removed prior to testing, and certain
services and features like Superfetch and System Restore are disabled to prevent
them from affecting our results. Aero glass is left enabled if supported. All
tests are conducted with WiFi disabled (as well as other wireless connectivity
features) unless necessary, and screen brightness is set to a reasonable level
unless otherwise noted. We also make note if energy saving features like Cool’n’Quiet
and SpeedStep do not function properly.

TEST RESULTS

During testing the screens were adjusted to a suitable, equivalent brightness
level (7/16 for the UL30A, 11/16 for the Edge 13). Also note that the UL30A
was overclocked by 3% by default in the BIOS (5% maximum).

AC Power Draw

Test Results: System Power
Test State
UL30A
Edge 13
UL80Vt*
Sleep
1W
1W
1W
Idle
(screen off)
6W
8W
6W
Idle
(typ. brightness)
8W
(7/16)
11W
(11/16)
8W
(7/16)
Idle
(max. brightness)
11W
12W
CPU Load
23W
26W
34W
CPU + GPU
Load
26W
29W
37W
*UL80Vt’s processor overclocked to 1.73GHz.

Running on AC power, the Edge 13 used about 2~3W more when idle and 3W more
on load than the UL30A. While the ThinkPad’s display was fairly dim and its
brightness had to be set higher compared to the UL30A, this wasn’t the cause
of the higher power draw as there was still a difference of 2W when both screens
were turned off. It is possible the extra hardware in the Edge 13, the WiMAX,
WWAN, and Bluetooth adapters were the root of the problem, though all the connectivity
options were disabled during testing.

According to CPU-Z, both machines idled with a core voltage of 0.875V, but
on load, the CPU on the UL30A only used 0.975V compared to 1.025V on the Edge
13. This alone could explain the difference in load power.

Video Playback

Test Results: Video Playback
Test State
UL30A
Edge 13
Avg.
CPU
System Power
Avg.
CPU
System Power
Rush Hour
(H.264 10mbps)
18%
14W
12%
14W
Coral Reef
(WMV 8mbps)
31%
16W
30%
16W
Spaceship
(x264 14mbps)
18%
16W
19%
17W
Crash
(x264 22mbps)
22%
16W
20%
17W
Iron Man
(Flash 2mbps)
22%
15W
25%
15W

During video playback, the power difference between the two systems dwindled
to 1W or less. As both laptops use Intel’s integrated GMA 4500MHD, they were
perfectly capable of rendering high definition material with ease. Some may
write off notebooks without discrete graphics, but as along as playing games
isn’t on the menu, the current incarnation from Intel is perfectly adequate.
As we found in our UL80Vt review, it’s also
the more power efficient choice. The UL80Vt, which has the ability to switch
between GMA 4500MHD and GeForce G210M graphics, used much less energy using
the Intel integrated video.

Performance

Test Results: Benchmarks
Model
Gateway
EC1803h
ThinkPad
Edge 13
Asus
UL30A
Asus
UL80Vt†
CPU
C2S 1.4GHz
C2D 1.3GHz
C2D 1.33GHz
C2D 1.73GHz
RAM
3GB DDR2
4GB DDR3
4GB DDR3
4GB DDR3
Boot-up
0:53*
1:25
0:57
1:13
NOD32
11:14
11:30
11:05
8:46
WinRAR
5:38
5:35
5:27
3:35
iTunes
8:46
8:04
8:02
6:13
TMPGEnc
20:01
10:47
10:22
8:10
PCMark05
2214
3196
3452
3656
3DMark05
979
1516
1396
1393
3DMark06
603
907
822
823
*EC1803h running Vista 32, boot-up time taken with
Windows 7 32.
UL80Vt running on integrated graphics (switchable).

Our timed benchmarks favored the UL30A slightly as by default it is overclocked
by 3%. The synthetics were a mixed bag with ThinkPad winning in 3DMark but losing
in PCMark. The UL80Vt overclocked to 1.73GHz was substantially faster, and larger
mainstream notebooks have 2GHz+ processors, so both the UL30A or Edge 13 are
lackluster in the speed department. Going with a CULV processor means sacrificing
performance for a thinner, lighter notebook with long battery life. Luckily
most of the tasks performed by the majority of users don’t require a lot of
horsepower, so the difference may not be perceptible on a day-to-day basis.

The UL30A we received shipped with Vista and it had a boot time of 1:12 which
improved to 0:58 once we removed most of the nonessential pre-installed software.
On a clean Windows 7 install, it booted up one second faster. The Edge 13 booted
up in 1:25 and its time did not improve with software removal.

Battery Life

To test battery life, we ran a series of tests to simulate real life web surfing
and movie watching. The critical and low battery actions were disabled, so the
system would simply shut down once the battery was exhausted as far as Windows
7 would allow (1%). WiFi was enabled obviously for the web browsing test.

For the web browsing test we loaded three websites into Firefox
on separate tabs: Google News, Yahoo News, and CNN International. Using the
ReloadEvery
add-on, we set each tab to do a staggered reload every minute. This is essentially
one page reload every 20 seconds.

For video playback we used an XVID encoded AVI (1324kbps video, 448kbps AC3
audio) played with VLC Player and a x264 encoded MKV (720p, 7mbps video, 640kbps
AC3 audio) played with Media Player Classic Home Cinema (DXVA enabled) in a
loop.

Test Results: Battery Life
Activity
Gateway EC1803h*
ThinkPad Edge 13
Asus UL80Vt†
Asus UL30A
Web Browsing
6:09
6:22
9:11
9:44
Xvid Playback
4:24
5:50
7:19
6:52
x264 Playback
3:31
4:35
5:24
5:52
*EC1803h running Vista 32, other systems running
Windows 7 64.
UL80Vt running on integrated graphics (switchable).

The Edge 13 can run untethered longer than most mainstream notebooks, lasting
more than six hours when web browsing, just under six hours playing Xvid, and
four and half hours playing high definition x264. With a lower idle power draw
and a bigger battery than the Edge 13, the UL30A delivers the most impressive
battery life we’ve seen in a laptop. The UL30A lasted 15 minutes shy of 10 hours
web browsing, 8 minutes short of 7 hours playing Xvid and almost 6 hours rendering
x264.

The UL series combines high efficiency with high capacity batteries so that
they can last an entire work day of internet use. The occasional Flash video
may cut into that time, but it could be made up by enabling power saving features
like having the screen dim/turn off after a certain amount of idle time or going
to sleep completely, etc.

Thermals & Acoustics

Internal temperature were recorded using SpeedFan while external temperatures
were taken with an IR thermometer on the hottest point on both the topside and
underside of each laptop. On both machines, the hottest point was located near
the center of the left side.

Asus UL30A
Activity
System Temperatures
SPL @0.6m
CPU
HDD
Topside
Underside
Idle
33°C
29°C
28°C
34°C
21 dBA
x264 Playback
43°C
30°C
30°C
37°C
21~22 dBA
CPU Load
47°C
29°C
30°C
37°C
24 dBA
CPU + GPU Load
49°C
29°C
31°C
39°C
24 dBA
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 13
Idle
41°C
32°C
30°C
33°C
18~19 dBA
x264 Playback
44°C
30°C
31°C
35°C
19 dBA
CPU Load
58°C
30°C
31°C
38°C
28 dBA
CPU + GPU Load
60°C
31°C
33°C
39°C
28 dBA
Ambient temperature: 20°C.

The Edge 13 had a slightly warmer exterior during testing, but both machines
ran fairly cool by modern standards. The Lenovo had noticeably higher CPU temperatures,
even on load when its fan was more aggressive. The UL30A operates with a core
voltage 0.50V lower than the ThinkPad which explains why the fan spins so much
faster on the ThinkPad.

Both notebooks were very quiet when idling, producing just a soft whooshing
sound that was rather inconspicuous though the Edge 13 measured 2~3 dBA lower.
On x264 playback, the noise level increased just slightly as neither machine
really required much in the way of extra cooling. On full load, the UL30A was
probably the best-sounding laptop we’ve ever used, beating the ThinkPad by 4
dBA while retaining a smooth, benign character. The Edge 13’s fan was much louder
and more whiny when the CPU was pressed into heavy action.


UL30A idling at 0.6m.


Edge 13 idling at 0.6m.

Pre-installed Software (Draw)

Both laptops shipped with an equivalent amount of utilities from the manufacturer,
mostly of dubious value. The UL30A had more consumer software pre-installed
like Adobe Air, Cyberlink LabelPrint and Cyber2Go, Google Toolbar, Norton Internet
Security and Skype. The ThinkPad was more business-oriented in this area, with
lots of pre-loaded updates for Visual C++, SQL Server, and Office, and extra
utilities related to its WiMAX, WWAN and GPS capabilities including activation
programs for AT&T and Verizon’s respective mobile internet services.

Build Quality (Winner: Lenovo)

The build quality of both machines is better than you would expect for the
$700~$900 range. The UL30A has a nice aluminum cover, but overall we would say
the ThinkPad is more sturdy. The palm rest on the right side of the keyboard
on the Asus is noticeably weak, as is the keyboard in general. In addition,the
battery isn’t quite secure; we found if you shake the UL30A slightly from back
to front, you can hear the battery rattle. The Edge 13 feels more solid all
the way around, the best we’ve seen in a sub-$1000 laptop. The construction
is not quite as durable as previous incarnations of the ThinkPad line though.
It looks like a few corners were cut to get the price down.

Screen (Winner: Asus)

The Edge 13’s screen is slightly less reflective than the UL30A, and its viewing
angles are a bit better as well. However, it is fairly dark so the brightness
level has to be set quite high even for indoor use. It also has worse contrast,
producing gray looking blacks, and colors in general look a bit hazy and washed
out. The UL30A screen is the opposite, very bright with rich blacks and colors
that pop, perhaps a little over-saturated, but more pleasing to the eye. It’s
perfect for watching movies, etc.

Webcam (Winner: Lenovo)

Both laptops are equipped with low resolution 0.3 megapixel webcams, but the
Lenovo’s has a distinct advantages. Compared to most integrated webcams, it
picks up light very well and is significantly less grainy and blurry, particularly
in low light. The webcam on the UL30A is more typical, that is to say, lousy.
It seems like Asus didn’t put any thought into this particular feature, just
throwing one on there because it’s standard.

Speakers (Winner: Asus)

The UL30A’s speakers are much bigger and sound substantially better. The sound
they produce is a little muffled, but otherwise well-balanced. The ThinkPad
sounds terribly tinny, making high notes break up and degrade into loud static.
The Edge 13 may have the worst speakers we’ve ever heard on a laptop.

Trackpad (Winner: Lenovo)

The Edge 13 offers the trackpoint option and its touchpad is smoother and more
comfortable. The separated buttons are also easier to press. The UL30A’s dimpled
touchpad offers a little bit too much resistance, and the single button is a
little lower than we’d like, resulting in difficulty when trying to engage if
with the side of the thumb.

Keyboard (Winner: Lenovo)

The UL30A keyboard is slightly bigger, but the keys are smaller because they
have placed the Delete, Home/End, PgUp/Dn in the last column on the right, and
have spaced the keys further apart. On the ThinkPad, the Delete and Home/End
keys are on the small top row next to the function keys, and the PgUp/Dn keys
are on either side of the Up directional key, all of which are very small. This
isn’t ideal if you use these keys frequently.

If you ignore the layout, the ThinkPad has the clear edge as it more closely
approximates a desktop keyboard. The keys are bigger, less shallow, and spring
up with more force, giving far superior tactile feedback. The whole keyboard
feels stronger and has almost no flex. Keyboard flex on the UL30A is significant;
when you press down on it, particularly on the left side or the bottom row (except
the space bar) all the keys in the area sink in.

In addition, the Lenovo allows you to swap the Fn and Ctrl keys on the left
side in the BIOS depending on which layout you’re more used to. If you rarely
use the function keys, you can also make the top row act as direct shortcuts
for adjusting brightness, volume, etc. by default without having to use the
Fn key. Oh, and did we mention the Lenovo keyboard is spill-proof?

Keyboards compared, scaled to 20 pixels per centimeter:

Asus UL30A.

ThinkPad Edge 13.

Gateway EC1803h (11.6″ screen). Red text indicates Canadian keyboard
layout differences.

Audio Recordings

Comparable System sound files:

  • Gateway
    EC1803h running on AC at 0.6m

    — fan off (18 dBA)
    — fan set to low (20 dBA)
    — idle (24 dBA)
    — during Xvid playback (26 dBA)
    — during x264 playback & full load (29 dBA)

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Asus UL30A and Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 13 both have a glossy LED-backlit
screen, a Core 2 Duo processor running at 1.3GHz, integrated Intel graphics
with HDMI out, 4GB of RAM, a 320GB 5400 RPM hard drive, and 802.11n. The physical
dimensions too are almost identical with only slight variations in thickness
and weight. Yet despite all the similarities on the inside and out, these two
laptops have distinct, almost polar personalities.

The UL30A has broader appeal. The keyboard, trackpad, and webcam are subpar
compared to the Edge 13, but its speakers and screen are heads and shoulders
above the Lenovo; it’s a far superior choice for movies, music, etc. Its energy
efficiency and large battery allow it to last an entire business day without
recharging. It also runs cooler than the Edge 13 and is much quieter on load
thanks to a lower CPU operating voltage. The biggest drawback is the keyboard
with its shallow, weak keys and high degree of flex.

Our Edge 13 sample was a top-of-the line model with Bluetooth, WiMAX, 3G, and
GPS support, but even without these features, you can easily tell that it’s
a business-oriented laptop at heart. It has a decent webcam, comfortable trackpad
and a superb keyboard. Everything that stands out about the Edge 13 is about
getting stuff done efficiently. The updated aesthetics makes it the first ThinkPad
that doesn’t look completely Spartan, but thanks to its high build quality,
it stays true to the ThinkPad’s workhorse reputation. The one area we feel should
be improved is the LCD which looks pale, almost sickly compared to most other
notebooks. We also wouldn’t mind a little extra battery life as it would compliment
the extra mobile wireless connectivity.

The UL30A can be found for $700, while the reviewed Edge 13 configuration retails
for $900. Lenovo offers a more comparable Edge 13 with Bluetooth and gigabit
ethernet only (no WiMAX or 3G) for about $800. The UL30A may give you a better
media experience and longer untethered run time, but if you need more of a business
workhorse with great keyboard, strong construction and Windows 7 Pro, the Edge
13 may be worth the extra money, even with the inferior screen and battery life.

Our thanks to ASUSTeK
and Lenovo for UL30A
and ThinkPad Edge 13 samples.

* * *

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& Asus EeeTop ET2203 All-In-One PCs

Asus UL80Vt: A CULV Laptop with Hybrid
Graphics

Asus EeeBox EB1501 ION Mini-PC
Lenovo IdeaCentre Q110: Tiny ION Nettop
Gateway EC1803h: Netbook
or Ultra-portable?

Asus Eee PC Seashell 1005HA netbook

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