Reviews  

Asus U43Jc Bamboo

Jayesh Shinde 2010-08-09
76 Good
Price: Rs 69,999

Full Review

Launched recently, the 14-inch Asus U43Jc laptop is part of the company's Bamboo series of laptops. The Asus laptop -- which sports an Intel Core i7 processor and Nvidia GeForce 310M graphics -- is primarily aimed at people interested in a style statement.

Design
The Asus U43Jc laptop has a characteristic bamboo screen lid -- the wood’s color tone is darker compared to the previous bamboo series laptop we reviewed, the Asus U6V. The Asus U43Jc'€™s bamboo finish screen lid is smooth and it doesn’t attract fingerprints. The bamboo surface extends to the laptop'€™s palmrest and touchpad.

The Asus U43Jc Bamboo laptop comes with very good internal hardware, but the bundled Nvidia graphics could’ve been better.


The U43Jc Bamboo laptop has steel-like accents running along its screen and chassis’ edge -- not as pronounced but similar to the HP Pavilion dm3 laptop. The Asus U43Jc has good build quality and weighs 2.4-kg with an eight-cell battery -- pretty good for a 14-inch laptop.

Usability
The Asus U43Jc Bamboo laptop comes with a 14-inch LED-backlit glossy display, supporting a widescreen resolution of 1366x768 pixels and 16:9 aspect ratio. The laptop’s screen isn'€™t as bright as the Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820TG laptop’s screen, but it is uniformly lit and has good viewing angles. The Asus U43Jc laptop has a 2MP webcam on its top screen bezel which comes with its own sliding dust cover -- the webcam’s good for videochats over Skype.

The Asus U43Jc Bamboo laptop has a less than ideal keyboard and touchpad. The laptop sports a different keyboard layout and design compared to the Asus K61IC-JX017V or Asus K52F-SX060D laptops -- the keyboard deck has a brushed metallic finish. While the Asus U43Jc laptop'€™s keyboard looks very similar to the Sony VAIO E laptop'€™s keyboard, its tactile feedback isn’t as good. The U43Jc’s keyboard has well-spaced chiclet-styled keys that take time getting used to -- for example, its Enter key is much too small and easy to miss. The keyboard could've been slightly wider as well. The Asus U43Jc laptop'€™s palmrest, touchpad and mouse buttons have a bamboo layer. Because of the touchpad’s bamboo surface its feedback isn’t optimum, I think. Even the laptop's single-strip mouse buttons are clunky at times and far from perfect.

Hardware Specs and Features
The Asus U43Jc Bamboo laptop we tested (a pre-production sample) came with a 14-inch screen and Intel Core i7-620M 2.66-GHz processor with Turbo Boost (up to 3.33-GHz) support. The laptop also has 4GB DDR3 RAM, a 500GB hard drive, Intel GMA HD and Nvidia GeForce 310M graphics. The Asus U43Jc laptop supports Nvidia Optimus graphics switching technology, enabling intelligent graphics management depending on the program or task at hand -- it’s automatic and you don’t have to do a thing.

The laptop has three USB ports -- one of which is a SuperSpeed USB 3.0 port -- HDMI, VGA, card reader slot, Gigabit ethernet, audio jacks, and a tray-loading DVD writer. Wireless connectivity standards like Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1 are also featured on the Asus U43Jc laptop. The Asus U43Jc Bamboo laptop comes with very good internal hardware, but the bundled Nvidia graphics could’ve been better. However, the laptop is very upgrade-friendly, with easily accessible RAM and hard drive slots.

Similar to the Eee PC 1008P netbook, the Asus U43Jc Bamboo laptop also features Express Gate. It's an instant-on pre-OS tool that boots the laptop within seconds -- a quicker way to get online without wasting any time booting into the laptop’s primary 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium operating system.

Performance

The Asus U43Jc Bamboo laptop performed very well throughout our slew of synthetic benchmarks. A WorldBench 6 score of 112 effectively elevates it above our Top 5 Mainstream Laptops below Rs. 50,000. The Asus U43Jc will tackle most processor and memory intensive tasks comfortably, and using the laptop for daily use -- like browsing the Web, watching movies, working on productivity suite, etc. -- is a breeze.

Gaming on the Asus U43Jc isn’t as exciting, though. Far Cry 2 -- at 1366x768, DirectX 10 mode, High settings, 2xAA -- wasn’t at all smooth. At low settings and low expectations, the Asus U43Jc Bamboo laptop’s discrete Nvidia GeForce 310M graphics is at best good for casual gaming -- nothing more. But watching both 720p and 1080p HD videos went well on the Asus U43Jc Bamboo laptop, with a good audio-visual experience.

With onboard Intel GMA HD graphics, the 14-inch laptop’s eight-cell battery lasted 1 hour 37 minutes in our synthetic battery test -- almost as good as the Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820T. On a conservative battery plan, while just browsing the Web over Wi-Fi, expect to hit just over 3 hours 30 minutes on the Asus U43Jc Bamboo laptop -- this is low given the Asus U43Jc's eight-cell battery.

Bottom Line

As far as laptops go, the Asus U43Jc is definitely a style statement with its bamboo screen lid and palmrest. The unit we tested sells for Rs. 70,000 and comes with very good hardware and features -- even a USB 3.0 port and a quick-launch OS which most laptops don’t have. It also has Nvidia Optimus for smooth, efficient graphics switching and management, and performs very well.

But its less-than-optimum keyboard and touchpad spoiled the overall experience of an otherwise recommendable laptop. If you aren'€™t mesmerized by its bamboo finish, the Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820TG is a much better deal. But for a unique-looking laptop, you can buy the Asus U43Jc Bamboo laptop with an Intel Core i3-370M processor, 4GB DDR3 RAM, 500GB hard drive, and discrete Nvidia GeForce 310M graphics for a price of Rs. 61,999 -- the configuration we tested isn't available for customers.

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