ASUS U33JC Bamboo – A Stylish 13.3-inch Laptop
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An interesting and stylish 13.3-inch laptop released by Asus back in 2010 is this U33JC Bamboo which is covered in wood and protected by a durable finish that should pass the test of time. In a sea of plastic and aluminum laptops, this model is a breath of fresh air thanks to the use of wood for creating a high-end finish. We are dealing with a luxurious laptop that has an excellent build quality so you won’t notice any signs of flex in the chassis. This laptop measures 12.9 x 9.3 x 1 inches and tips the scales at 4.54 lbs.
The premium feel is provided also by the screen hinges which are tight so they keep the screen where you want it, but at the same time it makes the laptop difficult to open with only one hand. The screen lid has a bamboo cladding along with an elegant dark brown finish which offers a tremendous amount of protection. An interesting feature of the U33JC Bamboo would have to be the webcam privacy filter. Although at first the two megapixel webcam might not seem to be very impressive, if you pay close attention you will see that there is a tiny plastic slider switch on which the words ON and OFF are written on either sides. If you turn the switch to ON the webcam is going to be available to use any time you want, while if you switch it to OFF the camera lens will be covered by a plastic tab.
Let’s have a look at the bottom of the laptop where we notice that there’s just one access plate which can be taken off whenever you want access to the hard drive, wireless card and the RAM slots (up to 8GB supported). To take the access plate off all you have to do is remove two screws.
The Asus U33JC Bamboo comes with a 13.3-inch screen that has a 16:9 aspect ratio and benefits from LED backlighting which is not only bright but also even. The color reproduction is above average while the contrast is extremely sharp. However, the main issue of this screen would have to be the rather narrow vertical viewing angles. On the flip side, the horizontal ones are borderline perfect. This display has a native resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels which means that you don’t get a lot of vertical space so multitasking is somewhat limited due to the lack of additional vertical screen estate.
Below the palm rests are the stereo speakers which are sitting on the laptop’s bottom edge. These are some of the best speakers we’ve ever seen mounted on a small notebook like this one, making them more than suitable for listening to music or watching a movie. However, don’t expect to get a lot of bass from these tiny speakers
Asus has fitted this model with an island-style keyboard which isn’t that great in comparison to other laptops from the same manufacturer due to the reason that the keys provide a rather mushy feedback, while the center area shows some signs of flex. You don’t get any dedicated multimedia buttons, but at least the arrow keys also work as media controls when you use them in combination with the Fn key. We like that each of the keys feature a matte texture and there’s enough spacing between one another to avoid mistypes. If you do a lot of fast typing you might want to know that the keyboard gets a little bit too loud so it might bother you after a while.
Below this average keyboard is a touchpad from Synaptics that also has an elegant bamboo covering, just like the palm rests. We like that it manages to be very accurate at all times and with virtually no signs of lag. The mouse buttons remain hidden under the rocker bar and you might want to know that these have a rather shallow press and are fairly loud.
Let’s do a quick tour of the Asus U33JC Bamboo and find out its ports and features. The left spine is home to the heat vent, one USB 2.0 port, HDMI port and VGA out. On the right side Asus has put the security cable hole, power jack, Ethernet port, one USB 3.0 port, audio jacks and the multi-format media card reader. On the front side you won’t find anything expect for the activity lights while the back is empty.
At the heart of the laptop is an Intel Core i3-370M processor clocked at 2.40 GHz which works together with 4GB of DDR3 RAM running at 1,066 MHz. In the graphics department it comes with an integrated Intel GMA HD and a dedicated GPU in the form of an Nvidia GeForce 310M with 1GB of its own DDR3 memory. Asus has installed a 500GB hard drive rotating at 5,400 rpm, along with Bluetooth and an 802.11b/g/n wireless card. We almost forgot to mention that it benefits from the Nvidia Optimus technology so when you are not running an application that requires a lot of graphics power, the dedicated GPU remains off and the laptop uses only the integrated graphics solution in order to preserve battery life.
When it comes down to heat and noise, this 13.3-inch laptop from Asus does a very good job as the self-adjusting speeds of the fan keep the temperatures in check while the noise levels are kept down to a minimum at all times. The only area of the U33JC Bamboo that gets somewhat hot is on the laptop’s bottom under the access panel where the hard drive and the RAM are installed. In this area, the temperatures reach almost 100 degrees Fahrenheit, while the rest of the areas are lap-friendly at all times.
As far as the battery is concerned, we are dealing with an eight-cell lithium-ion unit that has a capacity of 5,600 mAh. If you test the laptop in Windows 7 with the Balanced profile activated and the brightness of the screen turned down at a 75% level, the U33JC Bamboo should last for approximately six hours during web surfing and also working on a document in Microsoft Word. Needless to say, this battery can provide more juice if you are willing to turn down the brightness of the screen.