Conclusions and Final ThoughtsFeatures
The ASUS U6S doesn’t lack many features that I think an ultra-mobile machine should have, with maybe the exception of extended battery life. The Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of memory and NVIDIA GeForce 8400M discrete GPU have enough power to really push anything you’d want to do on a 12.1″ screen, even though the Vista Business operating system might seem like it is holding the notebook back (get used to it people!).
Speaking of that LCD, it is indeed a great monitor as the LED back-lighting keeps the screen bright even to the corners as well as providing a lighter overall notebook in terms of weight. The colors on the LCD weren’t great out of the box, but using ASUS’ colorizing software that is included definitely helped it out a lot. The screen didn’t flex when opening and close over several weeks and it also was able to be pushed open with a single hand instead of having to hold the base of it while pushing the monitor up (one of my pet peeves).
Other features of note include the fingerprint scanner and even face-recognition login that, even though it is a little bit gimmicky, worked quite well. The keyboard and mousing controls were very good: the keyboard didn’t exhibit any kinds of flex and the keys had a very tactile feel to them and weren’t overly squishy. The touch pad works just fine and has a nice brushed metal look to it and the leather surround that acts as the wrist rest is both attractive and functionally comfortable.
With four USB ports, audio headphone and mic jacks, a slim DVD-RW burner drive and even VGA and HDMI outpus, the ASUS U6S has as many connectivity options as most larger notebooks. There is also an Express Card slot for expansion and memory card reader built-in as well. Networking options include the 802.11 standards of a/b/g and you can also connect to Bluetooth devices as well.
With a good sized keyboard and 12.1″ screen, you can actually get quite a bit of work done on the ASUS U6S – I make it a point to write all my notebook reviews using the machine under testing so I can get a feel of how it responds to real world situations. I was able to type on machine without any issues except the standard mis-types associated with differently placed keys like the backslash. For comparison, the full sized Microsoft keyboard on my desktop is only about 2 inches longer from the edge of the caps lock key to the outside edge of the enter key when compared to the ASUS U6S. Other machines like the ASUS Eee PC are obviously a different story in this regard.
I mentioned on the previous page that the heat on the U6S was also very tolerable and didn’t cause any discomfort using it on my lap in bed, for example.
The weight of the U6S is pretty good at just about 4 lbs without the AC power adapter in your back. This puts the ASUS notebook in a class that will appeal to users looking for portability over raw power.
One area the U6S does fall flat on is the battery life. With between 2 and 3 hours of time away from a wall socket depending on your usage, the U6S is not up par on what an ultra-mobile machine should offer in terms of batter life. I can’t help but wonder how much better the U6E would do in comparison, as it uses the integrated Intel graphics rather than NVIDIA’s discrete 8400M GPU. At least then we’d know if it was an ASUS problem that is causing the short battery life or just their implementation of the NVIDIA GPU.
The software that ASUS has included with the machine, including Norton AV and Microsoft Office 2007, are nice to have but they are only 90 day trials so do think of this is a bonus in terms of value. Also, the ASUS branded software, including the login abilities, color tweaking, DVD player and more are kind of useful, though that’s is an individual preference. The uninstall button is your friend otherwise.
The performance of the U6S is actually pretty good if take the implied gaming that the 8400M out of the equation. This machine is able to out pace my larger HP nc6400 notebook all while maintaining a longer battery life in a smaller and lighter form factor. You aren’t going to be playing any of the latest DX9 or DX10 games on it, so don’t expect to. But getting in a game of The Sims or maybe Age of Empires III is completely possible while on the road. Just make sure you’re plugged into the wall.
Our PCMark05 results, and my own personal usage while writing this review, show much more potential for the U6S when it comes to productivity. I was able to run Photoshop, Word and several browsers at the same time without a big slow down though the hard drive didn’t much like me when opening large (10MP+) pictures.
Despite the fact that the U6S is brown, which when you say it like that almost immediately sounds like a bad design choice, it is actually very attractive. The brown on the back of the LCD is so dark that in most lighting it looks black and only in direct sun light does the shade of brown with blue and white speckles really stand out. Its glossy finish makes it a magnet for finger prints so be prepared to constantly wipe them off. The inside of the ASUS machine is also nice looking with its matter silver bezel around the LCD and the matching brown leather wrist area surrounding the touch pad. The accents around the touch pad and sides of the machine are a brushed aluminum and gun-metal chrome color and really add to the look and feel of a high-end product in my opinion.
Pricing and Availability
The ASUS U6S is currently priced at $1650-1800 depending on where you look. Newegg currently has the model for $1799 with a $100 mail in rebate, while our very own pricing engine shows it starting at $1640 or so. That’s definitely not chump change but is also not out of line with similar notebooks in the ultra-mobile sector. The MacBook Air is certainly sexier but will run you a bit more and cost you some features and performance. The Lenovo Thinkpad X61 is a good looking business machine that has similar specs, and is priced around $1500, though it lacks a DVD drive and some other features that the ASUS notebook has standard.
In fact, if you look for any other machine in this weight class you’ll probably find that the majority of them do not have optical drives, something that the U6S proudly has on display. It’s definitely worth your time to look around and compare what the U6S has to offer (and what you need) when placed to other competing options.
For availability, you can find the ASUS U6S in all the normal places like Newegg, Amazon.com, Buy.com as well as brick & mortar stores like Best Buy.
Service and Support
One thing that ASUS has gone above and beyond promoting is their service and support program called “ASUS 360“. There are two main portions to the ASUS 360: the warranty and the accident plan. Key features include:
ASUS 360 Warranty
- 2-year global warranty – service on your notebook at ASUS service centers around the globe
- 1-year battery pack warranty –
- 30-day zero dead pixel coverage – one bad pixel and you get a new LCD
- Free two-way overnight shipping – that’s right, free Fedex standard overnight shipping to ASUS and back to you!
- 24/7 technical phone support (except on holidays)
- 1-year accident coverage for spills, electrical spikes, fire or drops – only one claim per laptop
The ASUS U6S is a great mix of performance and size offering a lot of power in a small package. The LCD is very nice, sturdy and bright, the keyboard isn’t soft and pliable like other small notebooks and the looks of the U6S should appeal to just about everyone. The only downside is the batter life – it just doesn’t fit with the rest of the notebook and we expected we more than the 2.5 hours or so we got. If you don’t think that’s an issue for you though, the U6S could make a great mobile productivity machine.
Be sure to use our pricing engine to find the best prices on ultra-mobile notebooks and anything else you might need: