ASUS UL80Vt-A1 Review

by Charles P. Jefferies Reads (79,925)

Overview

  • Pros

    • Sleek design (see cons)
    • Stellar battery life
    • Switchable graphics
  • Cons

    • Subpar build quality
    • Abysmal keyboard
    • Unfriendly touchpad

The ASUS UL80Vt is a 14” thin-and-light laptop with 10 hours of battery life, an overclocked processor, and switchable Nvidia graphics. Read on to find out if this battery-friendly powerhouse is worth your money.

Our ASUS UL80Vt-A1 has the following specifications:

  • 14-inch 720p (1366×768) display with LED backlighting
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 Ultra Low Voltage processor (1.3GHz/3MB L2/800MHz FSB) overclocked to 1.73GHz/1066MHz FSB
  • Switchable graphics: Nvidia GeForce G210M w/ 512MB GDDR3 dedicated and Intel GMA 4500MHD integrated
  • 4GB DDR3-1066 RAM
  • 320GB 5400RPM hard drive (Seagate Momentus 5400.6/ST9320325AS)
  • 802.11n wireless (Atheros AR9285)
  • DVD Super Multi drive
  • Two-year warranty w/ one year accidental damage coverage
  • 8-cell Li-ion battery (5600mAh)
  • Weight: 4.8 lbs
  • Dimensions: 13.5” x 9.6” x 1.1”
  • MSRP: $849.99

It’s also worth mentioning that ASUS informed us that Amazon.com has a rather attractive promotion going on after November 1, 2009. Anyone who purchases the UL80Vt-A1 from Amazon gets a $100 Amazon gift card.

The same promotion also applies to the ASUS UL50Ag-A2. Additionally, if you purchase an ASUS UL20A-A1 Amazon will include a $75 gift card. Details regarding this promotion were not available at the time of this writing, but you might want to check out Amazon.com for more information.


Build and Design
The UL80Vt has a classy design. With a height of only 1.1 inches it is certainly a thin machine, and the inward chiseled sides make it look even thinner. The lid is the most visually attractive part of the notebook with its brushed aluminum back and angled hinge design. The island-style keyboard also adds to the visual appeal; it sits flush with the surface of the notebook. Although the UL80Vt’s 8-cell battery is large the designers cleverly integrated it between the display hinges for a flush appearance. The UL80Vt has an understated look and fits in both home and work environments.

The UL80Vt has a plastic construction with the exception of the aluminum-backed lid. All visible surfaces are glossy which means dust and fingerprints show up easily; keeping this notebook clean is a chore. The plastics themselves are of reasonable quality.

Unfortunately the good news ends here. The UL80Vt’s build quality and construction are subpar. I was able to visibly twist the chassis using only modest pressure, and pushing down on the touchpad literally causes the chassis to sag and touch the surface it is resting on.

This unusually high amount of flex indicates that the notebook’s internal frame is not strong enough. The lid also twists easily despite the aluminum back. Furthermore, the plastic screen benzel below the lid is very flimsy and can easily be pulled away from the screen about a half centimeter. Pushing on this area causes the screen to bend outward uncomfortably far. Lastly, the plastic trim above the keyboard is unsecured and has a few millimeters of up-and-down play. Overall while the build materials themselves are of reasonable quality the strength and construction of the UL80Vt are disappointing.


Screen and Speakers

The UL80Vt has a 14-inch display with LED backlighting, a 16:9 aspect ratio, and a 1366×768 resolution. Its glossy coating makes images look clearer at the expense of glare. The display has plenty of brightness but the contrast is low, making pictures look slightly washed out. Side-to-side viewing angles are adequate however are limited vertically; the display needs to be tilted just right to get an accurate picture. A better quality display would have been appreciated on a multimedia notebook like the UL80Vt.

The speakers are poor despite the Altec Lansing branding. They do not get loud enough and are very tinny. The headphone jack is fortunately static-free and the best way to get audio out of the notebook.


Keyboard and Touchpad
The UL80Vt has a chiclet/island style keyboard with extra space between keys. The keyboard is unfortunately mediocre and does not do anything well. While typing the keyboard feels loose as if it were merely resting on the chassis rather than being secured and has a cheap rattling sound, especially on the left side. Flex is also a problem on the left side. The tactile feedback is limited at best; there is not enough of it and key travel is too short. Moreover the keys are noisier than we prefer. As a result of these deficiencies typing is uncomfortable especially for extended periods.

The touchpad is also below average. Its glossy surface is difficult to track on and the single-piece button is somewhat noisy and difficult to press. I had to apply pressure at the far left and right edges of the button to get clicks to register.

Ports and Features
The UL80Vt has an adequate selection of ports, including HDMI. The notebook strangely does not have a Kensington lock slot or built-in Bluetooth. All picture descriptions are left to right.


Left Side: Power jack, exhaust vent, VGA out, HDMI, 2x USB, microphone and headphone jacks


Right Side: DVD Super Multi drive, media card reader (MMC/MS/MS-Pro/SD/xD), USB, 1000Mbps Ethernet


Front: Speakers


Back: Battery


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