While most tech companies are trying to outdo one another by innovating and incorporating cutting edge technology in their products, some are also looking to do this while keeping the spirit of ‘going green' alive. In an attempt to make the numerous gizmo-loving consumers more eco-conscious, Asus had launched their first Bamboo laptop in 2008. The ASUS U43Jc is the latest addition to the series loaded with some powerful tech specs even while keeping all the environment-friendly features intact.
A sleek chassis made of matt bamboo and shiny aluminium lends the ASUS U43Jc a distinctive look. The bamboo exteriors also help in keeping it a relatively lightweight laptop. The ASUS U43Jc has a 14-inch LCD screen with a resolution of 1366 x 768. The screen supports the widescreen format, providing a 16:9 aspect ratio for watching movies. While the viewing angles for the laptop are quite decent, the screen isn't anti-glare and this could potentially be a dampener during your movie marathons. The laptop has built-in stereo speakers with SRS Premium Surround Sound. While the audio quality is good, the volume can't really be pumped up enough for movies or music tracks to be audible in a crowded room. The fact that the stereo speakers face downwards at the user-end of the laptop doesn't help either.
The chiclet keyboard looks neat and is nicely spaced out but the keys lack a firm tactile feedback. Also, the layout of the keys is slightly different than what you might find on other keyboards, with the ‘Enter' key having been slightly modified along with a couple of other minor changes. Some of the keys double up as shortcuts to multimedia functions like launching the web cam or activating a screen saver.
It's only a barely visible and barely tactile depression demarcating the touchpad from the ‘woody' palm rest. While the touchpad was sensitive enough at most times, the click buttons felt ‘rigid'. The right and left click buttons are also barely distinguishable and it takes an effort to click on either one to launch a certain function.
The laptop has two ‘Power' buttons, one on either side of the top panel. The one on the right is the main power button while the one on the left launches the company's proprietary mini-O/S, the Asus Express Gate – now included only in ASUS's high-end laptops. This is an instant booting OS (starts in about five seconds) that lets you surf the internet, browse through your photographs and play Flash-based mini games. You can also customise it to be able to access IM services like AIM, Google Talk, MSN and Yahoo through a software called Pidgin. You can configure your IM accounts and log in to multiple chats at a time.
This powerhouse U43Jc comes equipped with a 2.4GHz Intel Core i3-370M processor with 3MB shared cache, 4GB DDR3, 1066MHz RAM and 500GB of hard disk space for storage.
For efficient playback of HD content or hardcore gaming, the laptop's powered with Nvidia GeForce GT310M graphics with 1GB of dedicated GDDR3 video memory.
This is the first Bamboo notebook to feature Nvidia's Optimus technology that enables the system to switch between high-end discrete graphics and the usual browsing or other applications that do not require the use of dedicated graphics. This, in turn, helps conserve battery power and leads to prolonged battery life.
The U43Jc also features what ASUS calls the Super Hybrid Engine. This engine automatically detects system requirements at any given point of time and regulates power accordingly thereby making it possible to increase power availability after a single charge by almost 50 per cent.
The laptop has three USB ports with one of them being the latest SuperSpeed USB 3.0 port that lets you transfer content with very high speeds. Ports for HDMI, VGA and ethernet are available and wireless connectivity are enabled with Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1.
ASUS's ‘4 Green Home Runs' strategy that involves choosing to go green with design, manufacturing, procurement, service and marketing is what makes the Bamboo series special. Plus, the product is shipped in green product packaging that involves 100 per cent recyclable bamboo pulp and non-woven packing cloth to appeal to your green sensibilities.
The ASUS U43Jc is a decently powered machine with the necessary green quotient for the eco-conscious. The laptop isn't sluggish and battery life doesn't disappoint, though there's room for improvement in its audio and video playback capabilities and touchpad experience.
User Interface: 3/5
Value For Money: 3/5