We’ve been using ASUS motherboards for many years and have been very impressed with the company’s engineering prowess. Having heard nothing but good things about its lineup of thin and light notebooks with extended battery life we figured it was time to take a look.

The ASUS UL30Vt-A1 (seriously, can we work on simpler naming conventions please) packs a lot of power into a very small and lightweight footprint, can handle most computing tasks with aplomb and has very good battery life. However, it suffers ergonomically from too much screen glare, a cheap feeling keyboard and a trackpad/button combination we just couldn’t get comfortable with.

When we first opened the box we were impressed with the silver body of the UL30Vt-A1. Doing the initial setup of Windows 7 and removing all the crapware takes some time. ASUS has loads of stuff installed and it’s not entirely clear what all of it does. We left the ASUS ware and removed the other free trial and useless utilities. Having worked in product management we’re familiar with the kickbacks companies get as a result of customers signing up for some of these bundled services but when it starts to seriously interfere with the OOBE (out of box experience) it’s time trim things down a bit.

In day to day use the ASUS UL30Vt-A1 is actually a pretty good machine. Office runs great, wireless access was nice and fast, editing photos in Picasa was seamless, videos ran well, HDMI is nice…etc., but we just couldn’t quite come to grips with the keyboard and touchpad. Maybe we’re just not ready for a thin and light notebook if this is the compromise we have to make. We also didn’t like having to use a tethered USB DVD drive to load software. Yes, most anything can be downloaded these days but it would be nice to squeeze in an optical drive. Again, maybe thin and light just isn’t our thing.

When it comes to notebooks and laptops it’s really subjective. A lot of it boils down to what you think is comfortable. For example, we still much prefer the TrackPoint on Lenovo (IBM) ThinkPads and some Dell products to any trackpad on any machine. The ASUS UL30Vt-A1 trackpad is funky. It has some multitouch features but the texture takes some getting used to. If portability and battery life are high priorities you may not find this trackpad acceptable. We anticipate a lot of users will just plug in a mouse and problem solved. However, on a plane that’s not going to cut it.

If you’re in the market for a thin and light notebook with great battery life the ASUS UL30Vt-A1 is certainly a contender. The specs are here and the design is appealing. This notebook is more than competent and very competitively priced in the sub $700 price range. Just make sure you get your hands on one before making the purchase.

Visit ASUS for more information.