>> Friday, October 29, 2010
Much like the UL30A, Asus U35JC-A1 is slim, angular, and decked in lots of brushed metal in many ways, it comes across as a throwback design, like a DeLorean in laptop form. The very thin upper lid is backed in brushed aluminum, the small centered Asus logo looking more EPCOT-era than ever. Inside, a light gray silver, patterned, glossy plastic surrounds the keyboard deck, while glossy, black plastic surrounds the inset screen. Asus' keyboards are almost universally of the raised Chiclet style kind, but they're not all made equally.
Some Asus laptops have exhibited serious keyboard flex but that isn't the case with Asus U35JC-A1. The very solid feeling keys were great to type on, and aside from our gripe with the awkwardly placed arrow keys and a right hand side of page up or down buttons that needlessly squish the Enter and Shift keys, it makes for an excellent experience. There's just enough palm rest space beneath for good lap typing. Overall, it's nearly as good a keyboard as the MacBook Pro's.
A medium size multitouch touchpad lies flush with the keyboard deck around it in the same color to boot but textured with a subtle matte grid that works better than expected. A thin button bar beneath feels too slight, but the whole package gets the job done well and, most importantly, responsively. However, we'd put an asterisk next to "multitouch" the Elan software driving the touchpad allows only for a limited set of gestures, such as two finger scroll and multifinger tap, leaving out obvious ones like pinch to zoom. Two buttons sit atop the keyboard : one to the far left, one to the right.
They look identical, but the right one is the power button, whereas the left boots up the laptop in Asus' Express Gate quick start OS. We're not a fan of quick-start environments, simply because their limited applications, quirky setup, and need to boot up Windows 7 for access to the rest of your PC's features make for an annoying experience. Do yourself a favor and just put your laptop to sleep instead. When Windows 7 is already booted, the left button switches between custom battery saving modes.
The LED-backlit, glossy 13 inch 16:9 screen has a native resolution of 1,366x768 pixels, standard for this size. Viewing angles were tighter than we'd prefer, with color and contrast drifting into a washed out look unless the screen was perfectly centered. For videos, Web browsing, and general everyday use, pictures and videos look fine as long as excessive tilting is avoided. Front firing Altec Lansing stereo speakers situated under the keyboard on the lower front edge of Asus U35JC-A1 are loud enough for movies, Webchat or any other conceivable use, with notable crisp punch during gameplay. They're better than standard laptop speakers at this range, but lack musical depth and powerful bass.