New laptop: Asus UL30A

New job, new laptop someone would say… But that’s not so easy when you have own company.

But my Dell D400 became desktop laptop due to nearly dead battery and I had UDS-M to visit so needed new mobile computer for use. After some checking of reviews, user opinions etc there were few models selected. Hopefully nearly at same time my brother-in-law bought Asus UL30A so I could check live how good/bad it is.

And one day my own UL30A arrived. Hard disk was clean — no MS Windows, no ASUS ExpressGate. Grabbed 2GB pen drive, put Kubuntu 10.04-rc2 image on it and booted. With help of “alternate install” which in reality means “Debian installer” I was able to setup it in my way (encrypted partition with LVM on top so rootfs, swap, home are encrypted).

System works fine, all components were supported out-of-box. At least that was what I thought. After some checking it was clear that something is wrong with touchpad — it got detected as PS/2 mouse with scroll. 2.6.34 kernel from Maverick solved problem after using “force_elantech=1″ option for “psmouse” module.

Dual core SU7300 processor maybe is not fastest possible but does work properly and uses small amount of power. During UDS I was able to carry only laptop with me — power supply was on desk in hotel room. With few tweaks from PowerTop I was able to get 8h of work (sometimes even 10h were reported). Such long battery life was the main reason for buying ;)

When it comes to graphics everything works fine. Intel 4500 chipset works fine with my 42″ plasma TV offering me 1366×768 from internal LCD + 1920×1080 over HDMI. Watching films never was such easy — I just need to plug cable and play as audio is also sent. Problem is that I had to tell MPlayer which ALSA device to use for HDMI :( Maybe one day it will be automatically detected and switched. What surprised me was console output on TV when I rebooted with HDMI cable attached. Nice thing.

Playing 720p movies from local hard drive required few steps from me (otherwise it gets out of sync):

  1. disable internal LCD
  2. switch TV to 720p mode (instead of 1080p)
  3. big cache for MPlayer

Maybe other players works better but I am so used to MPlayer… Before it I used avifile iirc.

Do I recommend this laptop? Yes, I do — long battery life, 13,3″ screen, 4GB of memory, 320GB hard disk and dual core cpu make it nice portable work station. Small enough to watch films during train trips, keeps long enough to allow to do that even in trains without power sockets. It is good replacement for my Dell D400.

3 thoughts on “New laptop: Asus UL30A

  1. GDR!

    I got 2 extra batteries for D400 half a year ago… they were so cheap I decided not to get a new laptop.

  2. Pingback: Are Ubuntu developers using Ubuntu? – Marcin Juszkiewicz

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