Screen and Speakers
The 13.3-inch display has a glossy/reflective surface and a 720p resolution (1366x768). The screen has no outstanding qualities. Brightness and contrast are about the same as any other sub-$1,000 notebook; viewing angles are fine horizontally but colors distort from above and below, as expected from a TN-type display. Color reproduction is substandard (as is the case for most notebook screens); everything looks a bit cold/cool with the default settings. Fortunately ASUS includes built-in color profiles; press the [Fn] key and [C] to switch between them. ASUS is the only mainstream notebook maker to include such a feature and it is certainly appreciated.
The screen resolution of 1366x768 is standard for this screen size. I prefer 1600x900 since it has more space to work with (more lines of text can be viewed on the screen without scrolling), however no 13.3" notebook offers it anywhere close to the U36S' price range. Finally, the screen's glossy surface increases clarity but acts like a mirror, creating reflections; for this reason I prefer anti-glare screens.
There are two stereo speakers located under the palm rest; they sound tinny and have no bass. The sound is muffled further when hands are placed over them for typing.
Keyboard and Touchpad
ASUS has modified its standard keyboard design for the U36S; the island/Chiclet-style keyboard is completely integrated into the single piece of metal alloy that makes up the top of the chassis. This keyboard is a significant improvement over the ones used on previous ASUS notebooks; it feels solid and has no flex. The keys have a flat surface and a granular texture that will likely wear shiny over time. The key travel (distance between pressed and un-pressed positions) is just right, more than other ASUS notebooks. Furthermore the keyboard is relatively quiet. Overall the only thing it's missing is backlighting; it continues to be a rarity in the notebook market.
The touchpad is appropriately sized. It has a smooth anti-glare surface and is easy to find by feel. Responsiveness and accuracy are as expected. The single touchpad button could use improvement; the pressure needed to produce a click is inconsistent depending where the button is pressed. Additionally the clicks are louder than they should be; people around you will know you are clicking. Lastly it has a reflective surface which always makes it look unclean.
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