Asus U5: lean green laptop

You don't need placards and a name like Swampy to appreciate the eco-friendly benefits of Asus' new laptop.Yep, the Taiwanese company is set to blaze

You don't need placards and a name like Swampy to appreciate the eco-friendly benefits of Asus' new laptop.

Yep, the Taiwanese company is set to blaze new ultraportable-shaped trails later this month with the U5, its first lead- and halogen-free laptop. The lack of lead needs no explanation - unless you're a Victorian painter reading this via a time machine - but the reasoning behind no halogen is that it's a group of chemicals, chlorine included, that are potentially dodgy for us soft humans.

The pleasant surprise is that you wouldn't even notice the U5's treehugging traits if you weren't told - it's a gorgeous bit of product design with respectable specs in its own right.

The first attraction is obvious when you pick it up. The U5 only weighs 1.4kg, barely three Mars Bars more than Sony's breathtakingly small TX1. Shoehorned, crowbared and shouldered into the Asus' slender frame is a 12.1 widescreen, the fastest Pentium M processor money can buy and all the wireless flavours you could want (802.11G and Bluetooth).

There's also some decent connectivity - three USBs, a multi-format card reader and FireWire - and a slot so you can expand the 512MB RAM that comes as standard.

Asus' move into greener laptops follows in the footsteps of Dell and Fujitsu, who both announced lead-free desktop PCs earlier this year. This is one bandwagon we hope everyone jumps on - hemp sandals not required.

Pricing's yet to be announced.

Related stories:

Sony's ultraportable TX1

Intel's suede laptops