Notebooks Guide

 ASUS Bamboo Notebook review

First Looks: ASUS Bamboo Notebook

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Panda Avoidance

Panda Avoidance

With the eco-green movement taking off, it's no surprise to find manufacturers jumping on the bandwagon. Doing its part for the environment today is ASUS with its Bamboo Series U6 notebook. Not only is this notebook designed with the environment in mind, it's also clad in eco-friendly bamboo instead of non-biodegradable plastic. That's right, it's covered in panda friendly bamboo, so don't go near one if you still want it back in mint condition.

Green Feel

If you're wondering why the Bamboo looks so familiar, it's because this 12.1-inch notebook is actually a repackaged ASUS U6. While it looks mostly similar to the U6V in both design and form factor, the layer of bamboo gives it something to brag about. After all, how many notebooks contain bamboo? We personally can't name any, which means that ASUS takes the cake right now for being just plain unique.

The bamboo frame seems to make the 1.57kg heft of the notebook feel even lighter. The only drawback with this design lies with the trackpad, which while sensitive enough to the touch, features buttons that did not feel quite right when clicking. It could just be isolated to our review unit, but we recommend trying the retail models for yourself first.

Features and Performance

Besides its environmental appeal, the Bamboo features a plethora of ports and HDMI too makes an appearance on the machine. The NVIDIA 9300M GS discrete graphics on the Bamboo will come in handy to ensure smooth playback of HD encoded videos which you can then stream out via HDMI to an external display.

Speaking of which, while most notebooks in this range often rely on integrated graphics, it's nice to see that the Bamboo went with the more capable discrete graphics. On our 3DMark06 tests, the Bamboo scored a decent 2103 marks and was even adequate for some light 3D gaming. On the CPU front, the Bamboo is also quite competent with an Intel Core 2 Duo P8600 (2.4GHz) processor, which reflected well in its PCMark Vantage score of 3648 marks. For a relatively light 12.1-inch notebook, such performance was very decent.

Closing Batteries

Unfortunately, the Bamboo's raw performance takes a big chunk out of its small capacity 3-cell 2400mAH battery. Our normal use left us with just over an hour worth of juice which was disappointing to say the least. We could have swapped in the 6-cell battery that came with our review unit but the increased weight to 1.9kg left a bad taste in our mouths.

ASUS does provide some help with power management in the form of their Super-Hybrid Engine, though this is really dependent on what you're using the notebook for. If you're gaming full time on this notebook on the go, this feature won't be performing its power-saving magic for sure.

The ASUS Bamboo is a worthy attempt at addressing the green movement and its unique bamboo design comes as a refreshing change compared to the usual plastic and metallic chassis. There's nothing to gripe about the performance as it's a speedy machine that's lightweight to boot. It's a shame about the dismal battery life though and at S$2,598, it's a rather steep figure to pay for going green but what the heck, you're doing your part to save the Earth while surfing the net. Right?