Storage is in fairly short supply on the U1. The 80GB hard drive is fine if all you want to do is store images and Word documents, but you'll run out of room quickly if you start feeding it thousands of movies or digital audio. As a guide, expect it to hold around 80 DivX files or 15,000 MP3s, not taking into account other applications you may have installed.
We wouldn't have minded the petite 80GB hard drive if Asus had provided an onboard backup solution. Sadly, all that's included is the aforementioned external DVD rewriter drive. This solution is great for keeping the laptop's weight to an absolute minimum, but having to decide whether or not we'll take the drive with us on our travels is an annoyance. If you've ever been caught between taking or leaving your umbrella you'll know what we're talking about.
Being a Centrino laptop, the U1 comes with full Wi-Fi support. It'll connect to 802.11b/g networks so you can pose in your local Starbucks as you surf the Web, and there's a Bluetooth adaptor that lets you synchronise with your mobile or use it as a modem. We were slightly miffed at the absence of a 3G SIM card for on-the-go broadband connectivity, but it is possible to add a third-party HSDPA card via the laptop's ExpressCard slot.
As part of the U1 package you get Windows Vista Home Basic, a 3-cell battery plus a larger 6-cell battery, a cloth for cleaning the fingerprints off the lid, and a couple of software titles for running the webcam. You'll need to buy or download your own office productivity applications.
Windows Vista has received plenty of stick for being a bloated operating system, so we were eager to see how it ran on the diminutive, relatively underpowered U1. To our surprise, the laptop ran like a dream. Not once did its 1.06GHz CPU and 1.5GB of RAM feel sluggish during everyday tasks.
3D gaming performance is a joke, as expected -- it racked up a 3DMark 2006 score of 193, which is nowhere near high enough to satisfy gamers' needs. There's little to worry about if you're not a gamer, however, as the U1 happily chugs its way through minor image editing and other 2D graphics tasks without fuss.
The laptop failed to run our PCMark 2005 and MobileMark battery tests.
On a final note, the cooling fans inside our U1 were prone to whining a little. It's barely noticeable in day-to-day use, but it can become annoying during quiet periods -- don't be surprised if your partner tells you to switch it off late at night.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Nick Hide