These days, going with a consumer ultraportable laptop usually means settling for a single-core processor. It may not have to be that way for much longer, though. Using a new low-power Core 2 Duo chip, Asus has introduced a whole lineup of CULV laptops that pack dual-core processors.
The new UL (a.k.a. UnLimited) product family includes 12.1", 13.3", 14", and 15.6" systems, all with the same 1366x768 display resolution and 1.3GHz Core 2 Duo SU7300 processors. Asus does offer single-core Core 2 Solo and Celeron processors as options, though, and the larger machines can be bought with a faster 1.4GHz Core 2 Duo SU9400.
Graphics-wise, all UL laptops ship with Intel GMA 4500MHD integrated graphics, but the 14" UL80V and 15.6" UL50V feature discrete Nvidia GeForce G 210M 512MB graphics processors, as well. Asus says users can switch back and forth between the discrete and integrated GPUs in order to save battery life.
Otherwise, specifications are pretty much what you'd expect for consumer ultraportables: 160-500GB of 5,400-RPM mechanical storage, up to 4GB of either DDR2 or DDR3 RAM, Windows Vista (upgradable to Windows 7), thin profiles, and light weights. For instance, the 13.3" UL30A tips the scales at 3.3 lbs with a six-cell battery, and it's only 0.58-0.95" thick.
Asus quotes a prodigious 12 hours of maximum battery life for the UL series, too, although that applies neither to all models nor to all usage scenarios. Oh, and these laptops feature "exclusive Turbo33 technology," which "adds more than 30% processing power." Asus doesn't mention more details, but that sounds like a temporary overclocking scheme to us.
The UL30A is already available in North America for $649.99, although the model we found only has a single-core Core 2 Solo SU3500 processor. We might have to wait a little bit longer before Core 2 Duo SU7300-powered variants hit online listings. Check out the image gallery below for photos of the UL30A.