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gizmodo culvWhile it’s a bit early to say whether Intel’s CULV platform is the new Atom, (there are still plenty of 10 inch netbooks with Intel Atom processors out there), there’s no doubt that the Consumer Ultra Low Voltage platform is making a splash — with PC makers at least. Acer, Asus, HP, Dell, Lenovo, Toshiba, and other companies are all putting out thin and light laptops powered by CULV processors.

Gizmodo’s Joanna Stern looked at four of the 13 inch CULV laptops that are available today: The Acer Aspire Timeline AS3810T, Asus UL30A, HP Pavilion DM3, and Toshiba T135. While these laptops are all a little large for my taste, most of these companies also produce similar models with 11 to 12 inch displays (including the Acer Aspire Timeline 1810T, Asus UL20A, and Toshiba T115).

In the end, there can be only one winner, and Stern settled on the Asus UL30A. She credits its stellar battery life, excellent keyboard, and above average touchpad with working multitouch features.

I’ve been testing the UL30A for the last few days, and I have to agree on most counts. The keyboard is comfortable to type on, and while I don’t love the texture of the dimpled touchpad, it is large and relatively easy to use and two-finger scrolling is a breeze. I’m not a fan of the single large button below the touchpad, but Asus is hardly the only PC maker to use the one-button-with-rocker approach. And as for battery life… the UL30A is hard to beat. Joanna managed to squeeze out nearly 6.5 hours of battery life — while playing video with WiFi on. I’ve used the computer several times for 6 or more hours at a stretch only to have the battery meter hit 30 to 40%.

I’m looking forward to testing some of the other CULV laptops to hit the market, but the Asus UL30A does definitely have a lot going for it. Unfortunately it also has a relatively high price tag of nearly $800. The 12 inch Asus UL20A is cheaper, at just $581 from Amazon, but it also has a lower capacity battery that Asus states is only good for up to 7.5 hours of run time.

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13 replies on “Gizmodo judges CULV laptops, picks a winner”

  1. I disagree, while UL30A has good battery It lacks Bluetooth and the webcam in only 0.3 MP, there are a lot good things about the UL30A but a lot of bad things as well. I would go for a balanced design like the Lenovo 450p; not a finger print magnet, has Bluetooth and 1.3 MP webcam, it has switching graphics like the Asus models, battery is only 6 cell though but for now the Lenovo 450p is the more balanced option.

  2. both the U210 and U200 being sold in Asia. But I read reviews that battery for the U210 not that good being AMD.

    but seriously, it is the best looking 12 incher now

  3. How come nobody even talks about the poor MSI U200? I saw it the other day, was so amazed how small it was yet it has a 12 inch screen.

    1. At first I thought you were talking about the U210. I haven’t seen the U200 for sale anywhere and Google’s not turning up any live retail hits, just a bunch of news mentions from 2-4 months ago. Is it available in the States?

  4. I guess I’ll go with Acer. I do a lot of video-chatting. I don’t know but why no one seems to notice cams: cams in asus laptops/netbooks are pathetic…grainy images n washed out colours. When I bought EeePC 1000H after a lot of research, I thought I had made the best decision…but I was disappointed with its camera..although it was 1.3mp. I’d never given attention to acer because I was put off that it’s netbooks have 0.3mp cams…1.3mp cams are better right? And then I saw my brother’s aspire one D150…its cam was fabulous! Vibrant, colourful n clear images even though the cam was supposedly 0.3 megapixels! I gave my Asus to him for his Acer even though Acer had a 3-cell battery. For him battery life was more important and for me cam quality. But I’ve heard that Samsung cams are really good too. No idea of Toshiba, Lenovo or HP though.

  5. With all due respect, I read that review yesterday and thought it was arbitrary if not totally ridiculous. The reviewer has a clear bias toward “island” (Chiclet) keyboards– probably because she’s also a Mac user (the dead giveaway is when she says she “can’t live without” two-finger scroll). From the basic comparison, the Acer should have been “tied” with the Toshiba (note the battery life is really no better). I cannot take anyone seriously if they claim that a “modern” Chiclet keyboard (or, worse, pointlessly flattened keys sans separation, a la the Aspire 1410) is somehow better than a traditional one-piece keyboard with beveled key edges. I can type a heck of a lot faster on my first-gen Aspire One than I can on my Macbook.

    While we’re talking keyboards, I wonder why Asus continually insists on mutilating the right hand Shift key. At least they gave the UL30A dedicated PgUp / PgDn keys– that was the dealbreaker that kept me from ever buying anything in the EEE line.

    In general, I think the upcoming Toshiba T115 is likely to be as interesting or more so than the UL20A. I guess we’ll have to see, since neither manufacturer has made their original 10/22 release target with these 11.6″ers. (I smell a conspiracy!)

    1. Did you even read the review? The Asus was only ranked 3rd out of 4 with its chiclet keyboard so it’s a little silly for you to say she has a clear bias toward island keyboards. The reviewer doesn’t seem to have a bias for Asus or any ax to grind against Acer as far as I can tell.

  6. I hope the 10″ (and 9″) netbooks stay around. I will have to replace my Samsung NC10 some day and I would hate to have to go bigger. 10″ is the sweet spot for me. The manufacturers are slowly working the price back up too. I cannot see paying $800 for the type of use my netbook gets. If I want an expensive 13″ model I will get a macbook.

  7. Hi Brad, can’t find your list/database of 11.6 to 12 inch culv netbooks that you mentioned. Can you give us the link. cheers

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