ASUS U36SD-A1 Notebook Review; Ultra Portable & Affordable

Author: Michael "SKYMTL" Hoenig
Date: September 27, 2011
Product Name: U36SD-A1
Part Number: U36SD-A1
Warranty: 2 Years
Purchase at NCIX:
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Keyboard & Touchpad

Keyboards are hugely personal things so what may feel great for one person may drive someone else to distraction. With that being said, ASUS has done almost everything right with the U36's. The chiclet style keys are laid out with an almost perfect amount of spacing and every one is also coated in a finish that encourages grip. Meanwhile, the palmrest and its “nano coating” is supposed to make the cleaning of skin oils a breeze and after two weeks of extensive use, it certainly worked well for us.

We have seen reports of keyboard flex on other ASUS ultraportables but the U36 only exhibited a very minor amount of deflection which didn’t impact in any way upon typing accuracy or speed. It is not however backlit and this may be a deal breaker for some of you.

The Power and 4Gear Hybrid (which is used to switch between ASUS’ preset power modes) controls are placed on the upper right and left hand corners respectively.

There are unfortunately some sacrifices here which can impact upon your typing experience. In order to accommodate the right side Page Up, Page Down and End keys (which are a handy addition for quick document scrolling), the right hand Shift key was minimized and the arrow buttons were closely incorporated with the standard typing surface This can lead to some confusion when typing and scrolling and the issue compounded by the lack of tactile feedback given by the keys. In order to save as much vertical space as possible, it seems like ASUS purposely limited each key’s travel distance.

For all intents and purposes, the U36’s trackpad is one of the best we’ve used. Its surface is just the right texture and there is more than enough surface area for almost any task. It also exhibited a near perfect amount of sensitivity where movements were clearly recognized but accidental palm touches were ignored.

Unfortunately the trackpad’s button is another matter altogether. There are two keys lying below its single slab-like façade and they do work quite well. However, in order to recognize a command, they require far too much pressure and make an unholy racket when pressed.

Upgrade Options

Popping the hood on the U36SD can be accomplished by simply removing a screw and popping out the access panel. What you’re greeted with is a lone 4GB memory stick (1333MHz with Kingston branding) which makes it easy to add a second module for 8GB. The one issue here is ASUS has made it impossible to upgrade the hard drive without performing a frontal lobotomy on this notebook.

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