Asus’ premium ultraportable notebooks fall under the UL (ultra-light) series and the Asus UL20 is the smallest and lightest of the lot at 12.1 inches.
The the thin and light notebook comes in a silver, brushed-metal finish with black glossy bezel. Its got a thin form factor and light weight comparable to the cheaper but plastic-built Asus Eee PC 1201T and 1201N. The UL20 has a more solid built and not prone to smudges and finger-prints, unlike the Seashell series.
The chiclet-type keys are appropriately sized and spaced although I’d prefer the keyboard styling Asus did with the Seashell models. The trackpad is contiguous with the palm-rest and the only demarcation are pimple-holes which also provides ample friction to the touch.
The clickers are also not split but is wide enough that you don’t get confused between the left and the right click.
The 12-inch screen has a glossy display; and while its got some pretty bright and crisp resolution (1366×768 pixels), it’s also prone to glare when outdoors are against bright light sources.
As for performance, the UL20 is one of the best performing CULV notebooks I’ve tested with a Windows Experience Index base score of 3.4 (GPU) while the CPU scored 4.1 (the additional 0.1 from our chart is due to the 64-bit OS).
The notebook can easily play HD videos locally and handles YouTube HD 720p just fine (YouTube HD 1080p is already choppy though). Full benchmarks of the Asus UL20 is published on the PCLabs blog.
(Top) Asus UL20A vs (bottom) Asus Eee PC 1201T. It will be interesting to match the UL20 with the Acer Timeline 1810tz.
The UL20 comes with a 2GB DDR2 RAM but I was able to bump it up to 4GB. The 320GB HDD is also more than enough. For connectivity, it’s got WiFi 802.11n and Bluetooth 2.1 (absent in the 1201 models). Standard ports include a VGA port, 3 USB ports and an SD card reader. The absence of an HDMI port is a little disappointing.
As for battery life, the unit has 6-cell Li-Ion battery rated at 4400mAh which is similar to the one used in the Eee PC 1201T and 1201N (they’re practically inter-changeable). BatteryBar gives it a decent 3 hours 40 minutes on regular use but I can stretch that to 4.5 to 5 hours if I dial down the display brightness (or run the Asus Power4Gear Hybrid utility).
I can forgive the battery capacity on the cheaper 1201 models but for a notebook twice the price, I was hoping Asus had put in a higher capacity 6-cell pack. Something like a 5600mAh 6-cell battery could probably push this rig to at least 6 hours on a single charge.
The Asus UL20A started out with a whooping retail price of Php49,990 which is on the higher end of the price spectrum. Fortunately, they dropped it to Php37,990 in February. That puts it on the top of the contenders in the 12-inch CULV category.