ul20a

The Asus UL20A is the smallest and cheapest member of the new Asus UL family. Like its big brother, the Asus UL30A, the UL20A has a chiclet-style keyboard, Winodws 7 Home Premium, and an Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 CULV processor. But this laptop has a smaller, 12.1 inch display, 2GB of RAM, and a 250GB hard drive.

The Asus UL20A should begin shipping soon, and the folks at Asus sent me one to review. You can check out my unboxing and first look video below.

The UL20A is a tiny bit larger than the Acer Aspire 1410, which has an 11.6 inch display. But the difference is hardly noticeable.

Thanks to the smaller screen size, the UL20A also has a smaller keyboard and touchpad than the Asus UL30A. The keyboard is still fairly large and easy to use, but I think Asus should have thought about dropping the dedicated Home, End, PgUp and PgDn keys on the right side of the keyboard in order to provide just a little more space for the rest of the keys.

The touchpad supports multitouch gestures including pinching to zoom. But for some reason, it doesn’t support two-finger scrolling out of the box. Instead, you can scroll by moving your finger up and down the right side of the touchpad, or left and right on the bottom. Like the Asus Eee PC 1005HA, the touchpad supports “ChiralMotion,” which allows you to scroll continuously by twhirling your finger. I tried downloading and installing the Asus UL30A touchpad driver to see if it added two-finger scrolling support, but it does not. I kind of didn’t realize how much I would miss this feature until I tried using a laptop that looks and feels so much like the UL30A, but which lacks two-finger scrolling.

In terms of size, this laptop may be nearly perfect. It’s not dramatically larger than a 10 inch netbook, but the 12.1 inch display is big enough that I don’t have to squint to read text on the 1366 x 768 pixel screen. The processor and graphics are identical to the Asus UL30A’s, so performance should be pretty good for watching HD video or performing CPU-intensive tasks like transcoding audio or video. But the UL20A does ship with less RAM than the larger model, so that may affect performance to some degree.

I’ll have more details about the Asus UL20A in the coming days. In the meantime, ypu can check out my unboxing video below.

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38 replies on “Unboxing the Asus UL20A 12.1 inch laptop”

  1. hey brad
    what computer is better?
    the asus ula20a with intel ulv processors su2300 and 3 GB DDR2 800MHz sdram; or asus Eee 1201N with intel atom n330 doul core and 2 2GB DDR2 800MHz sdram?
    which one will give me a better performance?

    1. FYI- the ASUS 1201n is not exactly “user friendly” to replace the internal harddrive. One has to take the whole thing apart. I prefer a laptop that can allow access via a bottom panel. In comparison, the UL20a does have bottom panel access to the ram and HD. Another thing to take into consideration… mike from Cherry Hill, NJ/

  2. Hallo! Greetings from Austria! Thank you for the great review. I’m between ul30 and ul20. Because of the small (for me, ideal) form factor, I tend to ul20a. But, I have two questions;
    1, How big is the performance difference bt. ddr2 and dd3? I think ul20a has ddr2, right?
    2,Can you use turbo33 on ul20a?
    Thanx again.

    1. The UL20A and UL30A models do not support Turbo33. UL30vt (Discrete GFX) does, along with UL50/UL80 models.

      DDR2 vs. DDR3 should show very little difference in this laptop.

  3. Hallo! Greetings from Austria! Thank you for the great review. I’m between ul30 and ul20. Because of the small (for me, ideal) form factor, I tend to ul20a. But, I have two questions;
    1, How big is the performance difference bt. ddr2 and dd3? I think ul20a has ddr2, right?
    2,Can you use turbo33 on ul20a?
    Thanx again.

  4. Brad, PLEASE post more infot about this computer!! i am anxiously awaiting a review!!

  5. I just bought the UL20A. I love it beyond believe. Just realised that using an Atom is crap and that it is the slowest thign on earth. I was using a 1000HE and even surfing the web became a chore. People are being fooled into believing that Atom is fast for handling mere web surfing. I think even that, it cannot handle well. Even to read a pdf file takes so much effort when you scroll.

    The Asus UL20A is so fast that one does not even need a full Core2Duo 2.5Ghz machine. It can handle everything and even editing 1080p files.

    No way will I ever go back to a crap Atom. I hope all netbooks in the future drop Atom and the basic should be the Celeron dual core 2300 (the one used in the Acer 1410)

    1. That’s kickass Michael! Just the response I was waiting for!
      The UL20 is said to weigh 1,6kg and the UL30 1,5kg
      – how is that possible when the UL30 is bigger and packed with more jam power in it?
      I’ll carry mine to school every day, is the UL20 small enough to easily put down in a bag and up rinse’d and repeat’edly? 😉

      1. The UL20 is really small. If you see Brad’s video, its more or less same size as the 1410. So, it is logically better to go for it as it is a 12 inch.

        As to weight, I think Asus has gone bonkers there. Even their official site has non logic specifications. I too wonder how can the UL20 weigh more than the UL30. Asus being global in nature need to buck up and put proper specs on their website.

        The UL is pretty small that it fits into my Asus 1000HE small carrier bag. But its a world of difference in terms of performance. And the battery is super long too, I am getting more than 6 hours with wifi on and max speed.

        But sadly, I just noticed that the UL20 does not have that Turbo 33 which some say can boost the speed to 1.73 from 1.3. Not that we need the speed as it is already so so fast but it is good to know how to switch on this Turbo mode.

        1. Thanks for a quick response, Michael, take my email address:
          RMW_ [at] msn.com ! You’re a gold mine on this 🙂
          I have so many questions for you! What made you pick UL20 instead of the more infamous UL30?
          And here in Sweden we get CULV2300 on our UL20:s..

          1. I think the UL20 has 3 different processors, the 7300 being the fastest. I chosed it because it is small albeit the 1.5KG weight. The UL30 is still much bigger in terms of size thus when opening it in, say, a car, it can be quite difficult. the UL20 also looks like an A4 paper, so when you carry it around with some files, nobody knows its a bloody notebook.

            In Malaysia, only a the 7300 is being sold but sadly, its pretty expensive here ie in terms of the cost of living. So, sales of it are not as good as people rather buy the Acer. Then again, Acer has got a strong hold in the whole of Asia as their pricing is very cheap.

            I also agree with brad that once the display crosses the 12 inch size, it really does not fall under the category of portable/netbook. To me, 12 inches is ideal. Now, having owned this UL20, I cannot go back to 10 inches anymore.

            I think the new netbook category that would be a big hit would be the 11.6 to 12 inch category. Now the 8.9 inch has been killed off. Soon, the 11.6 inch will kill off the 10.1 inch category.
            It 10 inch won’t be as dead as the 8.9 or 7 inch initially but it would fade of gradually.

            Eventually, the 11.6inch would be king.

          2. So it’s pretty much as big as a A4page.
            Huge difference between the 7300 and 2300 performancewise?
            I’m thinking of ordering mine today but I need to be sure that the UL20 is what I want the most. I was originally going for a 1101HA with 2GB Ram 250 GB HDD but the UL20 costs roughly 100USD more here in Sweden and it seemed worth it. Then again it’s big brother UL30 is “only” 150USD more, for 13″ screen, better CPU, RAM and HDD.
            But on this stage I’m paying 700USD+ for a Netbook that I’m only supposed to do school work/word work on and occasionally watch a DIVX movie, surf the net..

            So I better stay with the UL20? =)

          3. The 1101 is a big NO. The Z520 processor is slower than the Atom N280 and this would irritate you big time. That is why so many got frustrated with the Dell Mini 12. Just to load up Windows itself took 4 minutes.

            Just go for the UL20 as it is cheaper for your needs. If you are just doing the basic things like what you mentioned, the 2300 should suffice and work well. I think the 2300 can even play 1080p movies smoothly, so, that itself should answer your needs.

          4. Michael. Thanks very much for your review of it. I was most concerned about battery life. I guess 6 hours with wifi is fairly decent. I wonder how long it last playing video (4 hours I’m guessing?). I wonder why your got a 63WHr battery and Liliputing got a 47WHr. That’s a bid difference!

            Where did you purchase yours from?

            I preordered mine from Amazon, hopefully it’s the bigger 63WHr battery size.

    2. Hello Michael, I was wondering what country you bought yours from and if it has the regular English keyboard. Thanks.

      1. Bought in Malaysia and has the US keyboard. Does the US give the 63W battery?

  6. Hello Braddyboy =) Greetings from Sweden!
    I’m in the market for a 11-12″ netbook mainly for school,
    will be using it for writing (word work basically), internet, some DIVXmovies on the go etc. Might use it to program in Java later aswell..

    Would you recommend me the UL20 over any other netbook? 🙂

  7. Hi Brad, do you know if the UL20A comes with a bilingual keyboard for Canada? The Acer 1410/1810 have the bilingual keyboard here and it’s a pain to type on. Any insight would be appreciated. Thanks!

    1. crap.

      i just pre-ordered this from amazon. didn’t care about hdmi, bluetooth, ethernet, ……but 47WHr battery???? C”MON!! that really sours the deal.

  8. Does this machine have bluetooth? I’m really considering ordering one, but I can’t figure out if it does or not.

    1. Asus states “Built-in Bluetooth™ V2.1+EDR (optional)” under the UL20A

  9. Hi Brad,
    Just wanna ask for confirmation ul 20 a doesn’t have a hdmi output, right?

    thx

      1. that’s too bad as it looks very sleek and this was the one I was looking for but maybe the money’ll be better spent on 1810T then

        thx Brad

  10. Brad do you think the SU7300 processor is substantially faster than the Dell Insipon 11z’s SU4100 processor?

    1. I haven’t had a chance to test the SU4100 yet, but as you can see in my Acer
      Aspire 1410 and Asus UL30A reviews, the SU7300 does appear to outperform the
      Intel Celeron SU2300 processor, which appears to be one of the cheapest dual
      core CULV processors available.

    2. But the UL30A also had more RAM than the UL20A… I’ll be posting benchmarks
      for the UL20A soon so we’ll have another comparison point.

    3. Passmark show the u4100 to be slightly slower than the u7300,
      (937 pts vs. 1027 pts)

      u4100: no intel virtualization technology, 2M cache
      u7300: thermal monitor 2, 3M cache
      All I can see.

    4. Passmark shows the u4100 to be slightly slower than the u7300,
      (937 pts vs. 1027 pts)

      u4100: no intel virtualization technology, 2M cache
      u7300: thermal monitor 2, 3M cache
      All I can see.

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