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Apples and oranges
For a fairly run-of-the-mill Windows laptop, the U30Jc looks surprisingly tasteful. Aluminum with a subtle purple tinge covers the display lid and palm rest, contrasting with plastic highlights and a black, glossy display bezel.

Asus ships the notebook wrapped in at least a half-dozen removable plastic sheets that keep its various surfaces pristine. Thankfully, the palm-rest stickers come on one of those sheets. The only sticker that remains after unwrapping lies at the top right of the keyboard, next to the power button, advertising a "green LED backlit panel," DDR3 memory, and a brushed aluminum exterior—an odd choice of bullet points to pimp the U30Jc's qualities. Like all the other stickers, though, this last one can be removed, leaving its host clean as a whistle.

With dimensions of 12.9" x 9.4" x 0.8-1.2" and a weight of 4.6 lbs for the six-cell model, the U30Jc is definitely not slender or light enough to be part of the ultraportable club. It's even a little plump compared to my late-2008 MacBook, which has an all-aluminum enclosure and a similar 13.3" display.

At 12.8" x 8.9" x 0.95", the MacBook's enclosure is tighter, and it gives the system (as well as newer, Pro-branded successors) a sturdier overall feel than just about any Windows notebook, including the U30Jc. The all-metal design also doesn't have a negative impact on overall weight, since the Mac only tips the scales at 4.5 lbs with a battery rated for 10 hours of run time.

Of course, even the latest 13.3" MacBook Pro contains a platform distinctly older than the U30Jc's. That's because Apple outfits it with a Core 2 Duo processor, as opposed to the Asus laptop's freshly released Core Mobile CPU. To make matters worse, the MacBook Pro starts at a pricey $1,199. (Admittedly, though, word around the web is that the MacBook Pro's GeForce 320M integrated graphics chipset has more stream processors than the U30Jc's discrete GeForce 310M.)