Looking not unlike one of its Seashell 1008HA netbooks all grown up, Asus' 13.3in UL30A is its most serious take on the ultra-light likes of the Apple MacBook Air and the Samsung X360 yet.

If super-thin is your thing, it'll demand serious attention too. Although it weighs 300g more than the Samsung, it costs just half the price and matches it almost exactly for specifications too.

Excellent build quality

Despite its diminutive dimensions and relatively low price, the UL30A is incredibly well made.

The mica-speckled finish of the keyboard surround may be a little glossy if you like your plastic fingerprint free, but it feels solid and high quality, and comes with the odd guarantee that your wrists will never get warm. Compared to the more expensive MSI X340, it's like putting a Faberge egg against a Cadbury's Crème.

The aluminium-clad lid, though, is stylish and reserved, and only the base betrays a slightly cheaper finish, complete with wobbly battery fitting. But unless you plan to hold the laptop upside down, who cares?

Pared-down processor

The ultra-low voltage Intel processor may only tick over at 1.3GHz, but it's more than enough for most tasks and can handle HD video through either the HDMI output or on its 1366x768 screen.

Our review sample came with Windows 7 installed, which feels positively sprightly after months of reviewing Atom-powered netbooks or Vista-overloaded machines, regardless of the number of gigahertz the processor has.


More important than raw power, though, is what that low-power chip does for the battery life of the UL30A. It's a standout feature in Asus' netbooks at the moment, but the UL30A tops them all, capable going well into double-digit hours from a single charge.

Even the chiclet keyboard, a bugbear in several Asus laptops recently, is firmly fixed, and the multitouch mouse excellent.

Blue-rinse backlight

Something's got to give, of course, and in this case it's the quality of the screen. There's a definite blue tint to the LED backlit panel, although one of the advantages of Windows 7 is that colour casts can be almost, but not quite, tuned out using the built-in calibration tool.

If you can live with that, and don't mind the fact that there's no optical drive, then the UL30A really is an excellent laptop for the price. The only thing that might make you think twice about buying it is that Packard Bell's dot m/u will be even cheaper, thinner and lighter. But it’s unlikely to be better.


Stuff says... 

Asus UL30A review

The best super-light laptop for the price, let down only by a blue cast to the screen