Review: Asus' UL50 15in laptop squeezes in 11 hours of battery life on light use

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Review: Asus' UL50 15in laptop squeezes in 11 hours of battery life on light use

A slimline desktop replacement with a mighty battery life, the UL50 could be the laptop you’ve been waiting for

The phrase "slimline desktop replacement" may sound like an oxymoron, but the Asus UL50 is just that. Asus has squeezed a 15.6in display into a chassis that stands just 31mm high, and weighs a modest 2.41kg.

From the moment you lay eyes on it, it's clear the UL50 wants to go toe to toe with the Acer Aspire Timeline 5810T. Both have brushed-aluminium effect lids and sleek good-looks, but the Asus complements this with gloss-black innards. It's one good-looking laptop.

The UL50 isn't as sturdy as a traditional desktop replacement, but it isn't far off. There's little give in the slim base, but the lid is more flexible.

Despite its slim figure, the UL50 has all the features of a proper desktop replacement. There's a DVD writer, a 500GB hard disk, 802.11n wireless and Bluetooth, and an LED-backlit panel.

And although its dimensions make it significantly bulkier than any ultraportable, battery life is right up with the longest-lasting models on the market. We recorded just less than 11 hours of life in our light-use test, and more than four hours of heavy use; a mighty achievement by any standards.

That longevity does come with some compromises, however. The low-voltage processor runs at just 1.3GHz - a whisker behind that of the carbon-copy Acer - and despite 4GB of DDR2 memory, it achieved a score of only 0.66 in our benchmarks.

Entertainment potential is similarly limited by the Intel integrated graphics, which provided unplayable frame rates in our Crysis tests.

The Scrabble-tile keyboard isn't too shabby, and although some may dislike the short-travel keys and the soft action, the wide, spacious layout lets touch-typists get right up to speed. The oddly dimpled trackpad, although reliable, is more of an acquired taste.

As long as you aren't seeking a gaming goliath, the UL50 has much to offer. It's both attractive and blessed with some genuine all-round ability.

The big question is whether a 15.6in laptop can remain usable with such little raw power, but if your needs are undemanding - and you need superb battery life - this is a fine choice.

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