Hands on Use
The little ASUS U35JC-A1 did pretty well in the benchmarks, scoring right where I would expect a machine of its price and size to score. The first thing I noticed when I pulled the ASUS U35JC-A1 from its box was the matte silver finish on the top of the notebook and the wrist rest area. I like matte finishes since they are much easier to keep clean than glossy notebooks. The ASUS U35JC-A1 looks much more expensive than it really is.
The chicklet style keyboard is good enough and if you have used a recent ASUS notebook, this is the keyboard most of its machines use. I wish ASUS would take up all the space available with the keys, there is space left unused on the keyboard. I also dislike that the shift keys are so cramped. The Acer TimelineX 1830T I recently reviewed has a smaller screen and a larger keyboard, so I know ASUS has the room for a better keyboard. Aside from the keys being smaller than they have to be, the chicklet keyboard offers good typing feel and feedback. The shift keys are both smaller than you will find on some notebooks, but they are large enough to use without issues.
The trackpad is under the keyboard and differentiated from the wrist rest by a slightly rough texture. The track pad has good sensitivity, is accurate, and the buttons are easy to press. As I have come to appreciate recently, the tap to click function works just as it is supposed to work; no dramas with its performance in all.
The 13.3-inch screen is highly glossy bringing with it the expected glare in almost any condition. As always, the upside to that glossy screen is that the colors are good for video watching and it has good contrast and black levels. I did notice a hint of pixilation when streaming video online, but not enough to make me want to stop watching. Streaming from Hulu in windowed and full screen modes was smooth with only a touch of stuttering every now and again. The ASUS U35JC-A1 is very capable of streaming media after you are done with the school day or workday.
The ASUS U35JC-A1 has a sound system that is a bit better than others I have recently tested. The small speakers lack bass, but have enough volume that I can hear in a moderately noisy room without straining. If you want better sound headphones or speakers will be required. The ASUS U35JC-A1 is a very attractive machine; I have already mentioned the matte silver finish. You can also get the machine in black.
The thin profile and lightweight makes this notebook easy to carry all day. The ASUS U35JC-A1 also has very good battery life meaning you can work or play away from an outlet for an entire day in most instances without needing to plug in.
From a pure performance perspective, the ASUS U35JC-A1 is right where I expect an ultraportable to fall. It has fantastic battery life, which is its stand out feature. The overall performance that the ASUS U35JC-A1 delivers makes it sort of like a B student. It has no glaring faults, but has no significant standout features either.
In my mind, the ASUS U35JC-A1 and the Acer TimelineX 1830T I reviewed recently are a tossup. If you want more portability in a smaller size notebook, you can go with the 1830T. If you want more screen space and a slightly larger notebook, the ASUS U35JC-A1 is a good choice. The worst aspect of the ASUS U35JC-A1 would be its keyboard, which honestly isn't that bad.
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