The ASUS U80V is an all-purpose notebook with some visual surprises under the hood, including a touch-sensitive LED trackpad (altogether now: "Ooooooh! Ahhhhhh!"). The ASUS U80V offers a good range of components for the asking price and will run day-to-day applications without a hitch; it’s also powerful enough for HD video editing and occasional bouts of 3D gaming. On the downside, it isn’t the most visually appealing notebook on the market, despite the funky touchpad. Nevertheless, it remains a good performer for the asking price.
The ASUS U80V laptop seems destined to receive some glowing reviews from the press, if only for the pun opportunities. In addition to a backlit keyboard and LCD light sensor, it sports a glowing trackpad peppered with touch-sensitive LEDs. These tiny lights follow your fingertip’s movements around the pad, which gives the device a futuristic feel. As superfluous features go, it’s up there with the musk-scented ASUS F6V-3P182E or the flowery styling of the HP Vivienne Tam (i.e. a pointless but fun gimmick).
The ASUS U80V’s glowing keyboard is a considerably more practical affair, with three levels of brightness to choose from. The 14in display also has an inbuilt sensor that automatically adjusts the brightness level to suit the current environment. If you regularly surf the Web in the dark (dirty blighter) the ASUS U80V may be the notebook for you.
Yet, despite these fashionista trappings, the U80V is a rather plain notebook overall. ASUS has opted for a plain black finish that we shall charitably describe as ‘traditional’. The drab design is at odds with the funky LED touchpad, which feels like it belongs on a different notebook altogether. This ironically makes the ASUS U80V even less cool — a bit like your dad wearing a back-to-front baseball cap.
Confused aesthetics aside, the ASUS U80V managed to impress us where it counts. The keyboard is spacious and tactile, while the 1366x768 LCD produces crisp images with good viewing angles. Reflections proved to be problematic in sunny environments, but this is something almost all notebooks suffer from. The Altec Lansing speakers are suitably bombastic by notebook standards, though you’ll need to invest in a pair of headphones for especially noisy environments. That said, the Asus U80V remains a good entertainment notebook for music and movie playback, with the 500GB hard drive (5400rpm) offering plenty of room for media storage.
The version of the ASUS U80V we tested came with an Intel Core2Duo T9400 processor running at 2.53GHz, a 512MB ATI Radeon HD4570 graphics card and 2GB of DDR2 RAM. These are pretty standard specifications for a notebook in this price range, though its performance in our benchmarks was impressive nonetheless. In our WorldBench 6 application suite, the ASUS U80V received a total score of 96: a solid result for a $1999 notebook. This means the ASUS U80V will be able to handle most processing tasks quickly and efficiently.
The inclusion of a dedicated ATI graphics adaptor helps boost the U80V’s gaming and 3D rendering credentials. In 3D Mark 06 and 3D Mark Vantage it returned a score of 3238 and P4203, respectively. These results stack up favourably against the U80V's competition (the MSI PX600 received a 3D Mark 06 score of just 1525, for example). While you may struggle to run the latest DirectX 10 action games, you're unlikely to get a better performance in this price range.
The ASUS U80V comes with a standard suite of connections, comprising three USB ports, a VGA output, a 7-in-1 card reader, a 35mm ExpressCard slot, a microphone and headphone jack, Ethernet and HDMI out (eSATA is the only notable omission).
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