ASUS debuted the UL50 line of products with UL50VT for only $849.95 and drove the price down to $799.95 in most e-tail stores. The price for Optimus notebooks will remain the same - $799.95 i.e. ditching those MUX chips decreased the cost and there is no need for a price premium. Do bear in mind that upcoming Arrandale-based designs will reduce the price even more, since there is no mandatory Northbridge.
Getting back to UL50VF, take the following factors into equation: it is thin, it is light, has a discrete GPU and a battery good enough for transcontinental flight in Economy class. For less than a thousand dollars, you get a notebook that frankly, obliterates those notebooks with mediocre screen sizes and pretty much takes away a major reason of buying one: battery life.
We do have things on our wishlist that would warrant a price premium, but this is probably best valued notebook you can currently buy on the market and yes, no wonder that ASUS launched Optimus technology with this one. Conclusion: nVidia Optimus Technology
In the end, there is no other choice but to give two awards. Firstly, the technology that made all this possible. nVidia Optimus Technology is an invisible game changer. You won't see it in action unless you install the nVidia “I Am On, I am Off” utility, yet it works. This technology hits on many levels: with the lower bill of materials, driving down cost allows this elegant technology into the mainstream.
In a way, we feel that nVidia is going from being “just a hardware company” into a solutions company. That road is a very difficult one to take but the results are in - discrete GPU power is available today without the complexity of the MUX Switch design and user hinderance with those black screen flashes. Best of all – it comes with a good price. Given that upcoming mobile derivatives of GF100 design [we're preparing a separate story on these GPUs] are all supporting this technology, the future is definitely bright. nVidia Optimus Technology fully deserves our Innovation award. Conclusion: ASUS UL50VF
Looking at the spec sheet of this laptop alone, you could be forgiven for thinking it costs at least twice as much: brushed aluminum cover, fantastic keyboard that uses the same Intel-built design Apple adopted few generations ago, fantastic multi-touch touchpad, good 15.6" LED-backlit screen and again, the most important bit - around 10 hours of battery life in a plane not by looking at Excel table alone, but watching movies as well. I thought long about this product and after my colleagues had a chance to try the machine, we came to the conclusion.
The UL50VF is a voice of new a rejuvenated ASUS that is now free of the power struggles that damaged the company in the past two years. The company can now push into higher gear and we would not be surprised if ASUS turns out to be the next company to overtake Dell and ultimately, HP and maybe even Acer.
ASUS' UL50VF shows you what can be done in affordable package - a power saving CPU complemented with a good power saving GPU, delivered over 10 hours of battery life in real world, not using botched benchmarks. Given that we were able to watch HD movies 38,000 feet above the Atlantic and still land in Frankfurt with 20 minutes of battery left is a strong testament of just how balanced this design is. Playing Left 4 Dead 2 for five hours and not running out of battery was a dream, yet this product makes it a reality. For this balance alone we give ASUS UL50Vf our coveted Editor's Choice award.
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