The Power4 Gear+ eXtreme utility offers several power modes that vary in such parameters as CPU frequency, screen brightness, Windows power management scheme, etc. Five Power4 Gear+ modes are available when the notebook is connected to the wall socket and seven when it works on its battery.
The Power button is near the right hinge together with status indicators:
- Speed mode indicator (blue when the notebook uses the discrete graphics core)
- Power Saving indicator (white when the integrated graphics core is turned on)
- Bluetooth indicator (alight when the Bluetooth interface is enabled)
- Wireless indicator (blinking when the integrated WLAN adapter is receiving or sending out data packets)
- Battery indicator (alight when the battery is being recharged; off when the battery is charged or fully discharged; blinking when the battery charge is less than 10% and the notebook is not connected to the mains)
- Caps Lock indicator
- Power (alight when the notebook is turned on; blinking when in power-saving mode and off when the notebook is turned off or in sleep mode)
- Storage (it shows that the hard disk or the optical drive is being accessed)
Num Lock and Scroll Lock indicators are missing.
The Power button and the instant-launch keys are not convenient as they are deep in the hinge tube. It’s hard to hit them with your finger. The surface of the buttons is rough, however, to prevent your finger from slipping off.
The indicators are based on LEDs of three colors: white in the bottom row and blue in the top row. The battery indicator is orange as usual.
When the lid is closed, the bottom row of indicators is invisible, but that’s not a problem because the most important indicators (battery and power) are visible irrespective of the position of the lid.
The external color scheme is continued inside. There are rubber pads along the black screen bezel for a softer contact between the notebook’s bottom and the lid. A 1.3-megapixel web-camera is integrated into the top of the bezel. The camera’s angle of view is regulated only by adjusting the tilt of the display.
The silvery keyboard and the narrow steel bezel around the touchpad are the single elements that stand out among the black of the notebook’s body. The surface below the keyboard is trimmed with black leather, which feels nice to your hands. The notebook’s body is made from carbon fiber, a very robust material, to protect the hardware components inside it.
The ASUS U3S is equipped with a widescreen 13.3” LCD matrix that has a native resolution of 1280x800 pixels. The viewing angles seem large subjectively. The display features a LED-based backlight that provides lush and saturated colors. The difference from classic LCD matrixes with fluorescent backlights is visible to the eye. The matrix has a glassy coating that produces flares and reflections of brightly lit objects behind the user’s back. You have to take care about proper ambient lighting when you sit down to work with this notebook.
The glassy display is manufactured using a special polymer coating (ASUS Color Shine technology) that is meant to improve image quality and color saturation.
Besides it, there are two more technologies, ASUS Crystal Shine and ASUS Splendid Video Enhancement.
Crystal Shine is claimed to provide a higher brightness of the screen so that the notebook could produce a sharp picture with vivid colors even under bright ambient lighting, which makes it suitable for watching movies and playing games.
The notebook also features ASUS Splendid Video Enhancement technology. It allows adjusting the onscreen image by means of preset modes. These modes are selectable with the Fn+C combination; the current mode can be see in the onscreen menu.
The U3S offers 16 grades of screen brightness as every other notebook from ASUS, but it is virtually impossible to see anything in the screen at the lowest grades: the image gets too dark. The brightness level is adjusted by pressing Fn together with F5 and F6.
We measured the brightness and contrast of the notebook’s display using a Pantone ColorVision Spyder with OptiCAL 3.7.8 software. We selected the highest brightness setting before this test. ASUS’ power-saving technologies are not enabled automatically in the DC mode, and the values are roughly similar. The brightness is indeed high enough for using the notebook under bright daylight, but the contrast ratio is rather low.
AC power source:
- 146.0cd/sq.m brightness, 43:1 contrast ratio
DC power source:
- 144.8cd/sq.m brightness, 43:1 contrast ratio