May 26, 2011
- Portable, attractive design
- USB 3.0 & Bluetooth
- Speedy performance
- Above average battery life
- Mediocre trackpad
- Some quirks with Asus programs
The Asus U36JC is a well-connected 13-inch ultraportable laptop that has solid performance, dual-graphics and an attractive design. It's also got quite a lot of features and extra long battery life.
In total, the Asus U36JC measures 12.9 x 9.4 x 1.2-inches (wdh) and weighs about 4 pounds, which makes it extremely portable despite being a little heavier than most ultraportables. It has a graphite magnesium-aluminum alloy chassis that makes it feel very sturdy and able to take a few bumps and bruises.
The keyboard is a chiclet-style design with keys that offer decent tactile feedback, which makes for a comfortable typing experience. The touchpad, however, isn't quite as nice. While it is multitouch supported, we had horrible problems getting it to work consistently. Also, the button below the trackpad is extremely stiff, so it requires a lot of force to make it click.
The 13.3-inch LED backlit display has a native resolution of 1366 x 768-pixels, which makes it 720p high definition. The surface of the screen is quite glossy, so ambient light and reflections are very apparent. The quality of screen was above average and showed colors with vibrancy.
In terms of connections, the Asus U36JC is very well-connected. You'll find one USB 3.0 port along with two USB 2.0 ports, gigabit Ethernet, HDMI out, VGA out and a 5-in-1 multiformat memory card reader. There's also built-in 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless connectivity. We really appreciate the inclusion of the newest USB 3.0 for speed and HDMI out for entertainment purposes.
Specifications of the Asus U36JC include an Intel Core i5-480M CPU (2.66GHz), 4GB of RAM, a 500GB 7200RPM hard drive and Nvidia GeForce 310M graphics. The speedy Intel CPU combined with the 4GB of RAM provide a good solid base for performance and the 7200RPM hard drive keeps your data moving. Noticeably absent is an optical disc drive, which may discourage some users from buying this laptop.
There's also Nvidia Optimus technology, which automatically switches between the integrated Intel HD graphics and discrete Nvidia GeForce 310M graphics with 1GB of dedicated memory. The computer automatically switches between graphics systems depending upon your needs. Because of this, you can actually use this computer to do some 3D gaming and get some decent, playable results.
Overall, performance is quite good, especially with more intensive tasks, like video encoding and HD video streaming. This is definitely a computer that gives you a lot of power in a small, portable package.
The strange thing that we did notice is that some of the utilities that come pre-installed on this laptop from Asus have no explanation or documentation on how to use them. Even more strange is that some don't even load when clicked.
One unique feature is the Express Gate quick-boot feature, which lets you power on the computer into a bare bones Linux operating system that lets you surf the Web to do something quick, like check your e-mail. This is a novel feature that works good as it lets you boot to an Internet browser in about 15 seconds.
Battery life with the Asus U36JC is extremely good. On average, expect to get between 7-8 hours depending on your use. Even while viewing streaming HD video, you can get at least 5-6 hours of battery life.