Asus O2 – UL30A notebook on O2 mobile broadband review

well made notebook with a mobile broadband deal from O2
Photo of Asus O2 – UL30A notebook on O2 mobile broadband
£39.99 on a £30 a month, 24 month contract

You can buy any notebook you like and add a stand-alone broadband dongle to it. So why go for a notebook and dongle deal? It has to be a matter of better pricing, surely.

As far as the Asus UL30A is concerned, the sums work out as follows. Online, as we write this, the notebook can be had standalone for around £530. Buy it from O2 for £39.99 and take the O2 24-month, £30 a month mobile broadband deal and, over the term of the contract, you’ll spend £759.99. You can do the maths to work out what the mobile broadband is costing you there, and decide whether it is a deal worth making.

The notebook itself is a superb one, though. It is light and portable, weighing just 1.6kg, and it has a 13.3-inch 1,366 x 768-pixel display which is sharp and bright. There is a reflective coating which can make the notebook tricky to use if bright light is streaming into a window behind you, but this is no more an issue than it is with many other notebooks.

More annoying is the entirely avoidable use of shiny black plastic for parts of the inner chassis such as the wrist rest. This gathers fingerprints and quickly becomes quite unsightly. A cleaning cloth will need to be used regularly.

There’s no optical drive, so that is something you will have to add on as a third party extra if you want to install software from CD or save to that format. If you feel the operating system, Windows Home Premium, is not quite what you want, then rectifying that might be better achieved by buying a different notebook.

There is a generous 320GB hard drive and the 8-cell battery is claimed to deliver up to eight hours of life. We certainly found it lasted through the better part of a day’s work for us during testing. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are both present and there is a 0.3-megapixel webcam in the chassis too.

There is a reasonable array of ports and connectors with three USB 2.0 ports, VGA-out, HDMI, Ethernet, microphone, headphones and card reader slots. Most notebooks with 3G support have their SIM slot under the battery, but in this case it is on the right edge of the chassis. You may feel this makes your SIM a little vulnerable, but on the other hand it is very easy to get at if you want to swap it out to use in other devices.

The keyboard is one of those isolation style ones, and it is really comfortable to use. The keys depress just the right amount for use and we really liked the feel. We were able to type at a good speed.

Company: Asus O2

Contact: 08442 020202


Verdict
The Asus UL30A is a serviceable notebook which, while it lacks an optical drive, has much of what else is needed for efficient everyday use. It is light and portable too. If you like the look of it but not the mobile broadband deal, you can always buy it stand-alone.