The Bottom Line
- Excellent Performance From Core i5 Processor
- Good Battery Life
- USB 3.0 Port
- No Optical Drive
- Trackpad Overly Senestive With Rocker Bar
- Intel Core i5-460M Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 4GB PC3-8500 DDR3 Memory
- 500GB 7200rpm SATA Hard Drive
- 13.3-inch WXGA (1376x768) LED Backlit Display With VGA Webcam
- NVIDIA GeForce 310M Graphics With 1GB Memory
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- One USB 3.0, Two USB 2.0, HDMI, VGA, 5-in-1 Reader
- 12.9" x 9.3" x .8" @ 3.7 lbs.
- Windows 7 Home Premium, Office Starter
Guide Review - ASUS U36JC-A1 13.3-inch Ultraportable Laptop PC
Feb 24 2011 - Most ultraportables tend to sacrifice a bit in terms of performance for more power efficient processors. For the ASUS U36JC-A1, the company has broken away from this by using a higher performance Core i5-460M dual core processor. This combined with 4GB of DDR3 memory gives it one of the fastest overall performances that can be found in an ultraportable laptop design.
Adding to the performance of the ASUS U36JC-A1 is a large 500GB hard drive that spins at a faster 7200rpm rate. This provides it with above average performance when compared to the typical hard drive based ultraportable. It still has the performance disadvantage against those that have switched to solid state drives but it has a lot more storage space. If you need high speed external storage, the system also features the new ultra-speed USB 3.0 port. It would have been nice to see an optical drive included as well similar to what Toshiba achieves with their Portege R700 but this is a tradeoff for the extra performance.
The graphics on the ASUS U36JC-A1 are a bit different from other ultraportables. Rather than relying solely on integrated graphics, it uses an NVIDIA GeForce 310M dedicated graphics processor with 1GB of memory and NVIDIA's Optimus technology with the Intel GMA integrated graphics to optimize the power usage depending upon what tasks you are running. This is particularly nice if you are going to be doing video graphics work or other graphics that can benefit from the video acceleration. Gaming can be done unlike most others but only for more casual play at lower resolutions and detail levels. As for the display, it is your fairly typical 13.3-inch panel with glossy coating. Nothing all that different about it.
While the ASUS U36JC-A1 has a profile that is under an inch thick, the company packs in a larger eight cell battery pack. In video streaming playback tests, the laptop was able to run for just under four hours before going into standby mode. With its higher performance processor and hard drive, the battery life is still quite good but falls behind the likes of Apple's MacBook Air 13-inch which has a thinner profile but lower performance.
ASUS is one of the companies that is typically known for their nicely designed keyboards. The U36JC-A1 use the isolated keyboard similar to past models. The keys are a bit stiff but it is the reduced size of the right shift key that will be problematic for many. The trackpad is of a nice size but it is off center from the home row and space bar that makes for frequent accidental palm touches that can cause the cursor to jump. It also uses a single rocker bar design that is more difficult to use than distinct buttons.