One major difference between the Asus U2E and the U1 is the presence of a DVD rewriter drive. This adds weight to the system but the upshot is you can now play DVD movies and create disc backups. Some might argue that an optical drive is a superfluous addition to ultraportable laptops, but given the choice, we'd rather have one than not.
The U2E makes a fairly good media playback tool, but the 1,366x768-pixel, 11.1-inch screen does suffer from a limited vertical viewing angle. It's also highly reflective so it's difficult to see what's going on if you use the laptop outdoors or in front of a bright light source. One positive note is the fact that it is LED backlit, which helps prolong battery life. Some users might want to output video via the HDMI port. While this is perfectly feasible, the ultra-low voltage processor can't always be relied upon to pump full 1080p video without dropping the occasional frame.
Security is always worth considering with laptops -- just ask MI5. Anyone with sensitive data will relish the inclusion of a fingerprint reader, which works as an alternative to entering long, tedious passwords. This reads from the live skin layer, meaning people can't just swipe your severed finger to gain access. The U2E also comes with full TPM hardware solution to help prevent hackers capturing your passwords.
As you'd expect, the U2E is fully Centrino compliant. It'll happily hook up to Wi-Fi networks that use 802.11a/b/g and even has 802.11n compliance, for those lucky enough to own other high-speed 802.11n hardware. The laptop also uses a Gigabit Lan adaptor plus a modem port
Other things you might need to know about include a 2-year global warranty, a carry case, 3- and 6-cell batteries, a wireless Bluetooth mouse, and a copy of Windows Vista Home Premium.
The U2E's performance is adequate. The 1.06GHz CPU and 2GB of RAM are sufficient to run Windows Vista Home Premium edition smoothly. It's certainly not the sort of laptop that you'd use for encoding video, rendering 3D graphics, or running 3D games, but it rarely feels sluggish. It scored 1,851 in PCMark 2005 and 193 in 3DMark 2006.
The U2E's lasted 1 hour in our BatteryEater render test, which is disappointing. We put this down to it using 3-cell battery, which doesn't hold a lot of charge. Asus says the U2E will also include a larger 6-cell battery in the box, although we were unable to test this as our review sample didn't include one.
The Asus U2E is a fantastic laptop. It's far slower than rivals such as the Sony Vaio TZ series or MacBook Air, but it's stylish, feature-rich and in many ways more desirable than many of the alternatives.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday