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So the VX3 has a sense of style and solid build quality, but that won't be enough to justify its lofty price tag. Fortunately, the system has a few other tricks up its sleeve.

Processor Intel Core 2 Duo T9300 2.5GHz
Memory 4GB DDR2-667 (2 SO-DIMMs)
North bridge Intel PM965 Express
South bridge Intel ICH8M
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce 9300M G 256MB
Display 12.1" TFT with WXGA (1280x800) resolution and LED backlight
Storage 5,400-RPM, 320GB mechanical hard drive
Audio Stereo audio output
Ports 4 USB 2.0
1 RJ45 10/100/1000 Ethernet
1 RJ11 Modem
1 digital headphone SP/DIF output
1 analog microphone input
Expansion slots 1 ExpressCard 54
Communications 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi
Bluetooth 2.0 with EDR
Input devices "Full size" keyboard
Trackpad with scroll zone and circular scrolling
Camera 1.3-megapixel webcam
Dimensions 11.9" x 8.8" x 1.2" (305 mm x 220 mm x 31 mm)
Weight 3.7lbs (1.68kg) with 3-cell battery
Battery 3-cell Li-Ion 2400mAh 11.1V
9-cell 7800mAh 11.1V
Warranty Two years, one-year accidental damage replacement coverage

As one might expect from a 12.1" notebook, the VX3's dimensions are quite compact at 11.9 x 8.5 x 1.5 inches. The system weighs in at just under four pounds with the 3-cell battery, and the AC adapter adds about another pound to the VX3's travel weight. So the VX3 isn't quite as small or as light as some of the other ultraportables on the market, then, but as we'll see in a moment, Asus makes good use of the extra size. There's a satisfying density to the VX3, too, as if there's very little free space within the chassis.

The brightness was cranked up to 80% for this shot

The VX3's form factor is large enough to accommodate a 12.1" screen with a 16:10 aspect ration and 1280x800 display resolution. This is a good resolution for a screen of this size; you might be able to squeeze in some more pixels, but that would probably cause the average user to squint a lot. An LED backlight illuminates the screen, providing excellent brightness that makes the VX3 quite legible in sunlight. The screen is very evenly lit, with good contrast and color saturation. Horizontal viewing angles are excellent, as well, but vertical angles succumb to inversion. There is some light bleed from the corners when displaying a solid black screen, as well. This effect will be most noticeable when watching a letter-boxed movie in a dark room or on a night flight.

A proper keyboard that won't induce carpal tunnel syndrome

Asus has outfitted the system with an excellent keyboard. Key travel is short, as one would expect from an ultra-portable notebook, but the feel is nicely dampened. You won't encounter any strange key layouts here, either. The VX3 even has dedicated Home, PgUp, PgDn and End keys. To be fair, the VX3's function keys are rather small, but that's a minor price to pay for full-sized keys elsewhere. The VX3's main keys measure 17.5 mm—exactly the same size as those on my desktop keyboard.

The VX3's touchpad is great, too, although its slightly trapezoidal shape takes a little getting used to. The touchpad's surface is very smooth and the buttons are quite firm. Scrolling zones are supported, in addition to circular scrolling. Asus even throws in a fingerprint reader between the two touchpad buttons.

If you know Asus notebooks, this might all seem a bit familiar—the VX3 shares a chassis with the U6 line