by Giuseppe Naylor
The entire electronics world has been moving towards smaller, faster and stronger since the transistor radio. Squeezing what would have been a room full of top-of-the-line systems just 10 years ago into a package that weighs less than a common college textbook is just the latest accomplishment.
Notebook computers are a study in compromise. The most powerful systems are generally the largest, noisiest and hottest notebooks, while undersized ultraportables give you the maximum portability, most of the times at the expense of raw computing cycles. Utilizing basic productivity programs, web browsing, and DVD playback has not caused disappointment thus far with the Portable One UX, though, an ultraportable in every sense of the world.
Portable One UX Ultra Portable Notebook
In a very competitive notebook retail world, Portable One is also making a first impression of sorts. While already well known as a great site to purchase and configure Fujitsu systems (www.portableone.com), the UX is one of their first attempts to enter the OEM market themselves. So far, I hope this first impression lasts throughout their future product line, as it is a good one.
The most surprising part is the speed of the Dothan Centrino platform. The Intel Pentium M 725 and 768MB of RAM provide a very good computing punch, especially at this size. Booting the system is a speedy affair, and shows the prowess of the 7200RPM 60GB hard drive from the first time the notebook is turned on. While the computer tends to heat up a little with this setup, it has yet to be uncomfortable to the touch. The Intel 2200 Pro B/G wireless card is well integrated into the system, although the range is not as good as a Broadcom or Atheros solution. The Intel Extreme Graphics 2 integrated graphics processor with shared RAM is good enough for DVDs and light graphics. You won t be able to play Doom3, but older games should play well.
The design feels sturdy if a little unassuming in visual design. The exception visually is the touchpad and its buttons. Its brushed aluminum surrounding hides the usual ubiquitous buttons in a very smooth design. It took me a minute to even realize that they were the touchpad buttons.
Portable One UX Keyboard
The keyboard has a good feel, with good spring for the touch-typist. I found that my typing speed decreased by a barely noticeable level, even though the keys and keyboard are smaller than standard. The curser buttons are noticeably smaller, however, and the forward slash button is in an odd place at the lower left of the keyboard. The overall impression of the keyboard is a very good one; the semi-transparent buttons leave quite a bit to be desired in terms of appearance, though, and tend to give the $1800 machine a slightly cheap look.
As is common with ultraportables, the speakers are extremely tinny and echo badly. It is very common for a machine this size to have awful speakers-make sure to bring headphones.
I was extremely impressed with the standard software suite which includes the VCom System Suite 5, Nero CD software, Asus PowerDirector, AsusDVD (PowerDVD 5), and Windows XP Professional. The XP disk would definitely be appreciated, but most customers of this system will probably already have one. Restore software is already installed upon arrival and the hard drive is partitioned, yet leaves additional room for QuickImage to store additional hard drive images on the backup D: drive as the user sees fit. Even with this excellent option, though, a basic restore disk would still be a welcome option, as is standard with most systems.
Unlike many systems in this class, it has an integrated DVD/CD-RW drive. This increases the convenience and portability factor of this machine immensely. For example, instead of buying 2 or 3 $75 SD Cards for your DV Camcorder (which this system can read), just download your images and video and burn them to CD (at less than a dollar each).
The screen, while necessarily small, is bright and clear. Everything is readable on its 1024×768 resolution display, and is easily configurable with Control Panel.
Of course, this is just an idea of what this system is and can do. But, if this system continues to impress the way it has for the first week, the IBM X40 might have a sworn enemy.
PS: Rejoice Intel fans, PCMark04 and 3DMark01 will provide benchmarks in the full review.
Portable One UX Right Side View