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When I think of wood, beautiful trees, furniture, boats, guitars, carvings, lumber and buildings come to mind. But when I think of notebook computers, wood is the last thing on my mind. That has changed after seeing the ASUS Bamboo notebook computers.
The ASUS Bamboo notebooks feature an unusual and beautiful bamboo wood veneer on the lid and palm rest area. It really does have a striking appearance. From a distance it seems that the notebook must be covered in wood-tone plastic, but on closer inspection, it's apparent that the finish looks and feels too good to be plastic. And that’s because it’s a genuine bamboo wood veneer with a handsome, dark finish.
Exactly how ASUS is able to get such a smooth, flawless layer of wood to adhere to a notebook computer is anyone’s guess, but I wouldn’t be surprised if ASUS engineers consulted Rolls Royce beforehand. Environmentalists should not be alarmed at the use of this kind of wood because bamboo, while beautiful, is more of a weed than a tree. It’s difficult to rid a patch of land of bamboo once it gets a foothold, so we’ll never have to worry about bamboo shortages. Bamboo is eminently replenishable.
The top of the lid, wrist rest, touch pad and mouse buttons are all sheathed in darkly finished bamboo. The rest of the notebook’s exterior consists of brushed metal and glossy black plastic with chrome accent trim. Powered by Intel Core i3 and Core i5 processors, ASUS should apply a new product sticker that says “Intel Inside, Wood Outside.” That “wood” say it all.
ASUS is offering the Bamboo notebooks in three sizes with slightly different hardware configurations. I examined the ASUS U33Jc-A1, an ultra-portable model with a 13.3-inch LED-backlit display and no optical drive. The glossy 13.3-inch display has a native resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels. The U33Jc-A1 is powered by a 2.4GHz Intel Core i3-370M processor with 4GB of memory and a 500GB, 5400 rpm SATA hard drive.
Like all of the ASUS Bamboo notebooks, the U33Jc-A1 also features VGA and HDMI video outputs, stereo speakers, a webcam, gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, an SD card reader, two USB 2.0 ports, and one USB 3.0 port. The USB 3.0 port is easily identified by its blue connector.
All of the ASUS Bamboo notebooks also feature a hybrid graphics system consisting of an nVIDIA GeForce 310M with 1GB of dedicated DDR3 VRAM and an integrated Intel GMA MHD graphics processor. The notebook uses the powerful nVIDIA processor when needed, but automatically switches to the integrated Intel graphics processor to save power whenever it can. The U33Jc-A1 measures 12.9 inches wide by 0.98 inches high by 9.28 inches deep and weighs 3.74 pounds. The U33Jc-A1 costs $999.
If you insist on having an optical drive in your Bamboo notebook, you’ll have to step up to the ASUS U43Jc-A1. In addition to a larger 14-inch screen, more powerful 2.4GHz Core i5-450M processor and more capacious 640GB hard drive, the U43Jc-A1 features a built-in SuperMulti DVD burner. All other features of the ASUS U43Jc-A1, including screen resolution, are the same as the U33Jc-A1. The U43Jc-A1 measures 13.7 inches wide by 1.2 inches high by 9.6 inches deep and weighs 4.73 pounds. The U43Jc-A1 costs $1,129.
If you’re like me, you’ll take a larger screen size over easy portability any day. So for me, the Bamboo notebook of choice would be the ASUS U53Jc-A1, which features a 15.6-inch display. Except for the larger display, the specifications of the U53Jc-A1 are the same as the U43Jc-A1. The two models even share the same price of $1,129. To me, that’s like getting something for nothing.
All of the ASUS Bamboo notebooks run the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium. Windows 7 is a key ingredient in making the Bamboo notebooks WiDi-compatible. Intel’s Wireless Display technology, or WiDi, lets you transmit contents wirelessly from your hard disk, home network or browser to your big-screen TV. To make WiDi work you also need Netgear’s Push2TV adapter. The Bamboo notebook transmits its video output wirelessly to the Push2TV adapter, which then feeds the signal through HDMI and composite outputs to a high-definition TV. The Push2TV adapter costs $99.
You can get a mail-in rebate on an HP printer when you buy any of the ASUS Bamboo notebooks, or any PC for that matter. You get a $40 mail-in rebate with the combined purchase on the same day of any PC, desktop or notebook and an HP printer or HP All-In-One priced from $69 to $119, or a $60 mail-in rebate with the combined purchase on the same day of any PC and HP printer or HP All-In-One costing more than $119.
If you’re looking for a notebook computer containing the latest technology and one that stands out in a crowd, then consider any one of the ASUS Bamboo notebooks. With three different models to choose from, the Bamboo notebooks can meet anyone’s needs, and they are available for pre-order at B&H now.