Carrying on in aesthetics from the excellent UL series, the PL30Jt is Asus' mid-range 13-inch laptop, decked out in a combination of black plastic and brushed aluminium.
It has a 1366x768 matte screen — somewhat of a rarity on the shelves these days, and between the left and right mouse buttons is the most stealthy fingerprint reader we've seen. Beneath this are some rather useless status indicators, in that they're on the lip of the laptop, making them completely invisible to the user unless they lower their heads or raise the laptop to eye level.
With a Core i5 UL520 @ 1.06GHz (up to 1.86GHz with Turbo Boost), the PL30Jt has a bit more power than the UL series of yore. This is combined with 4GB RAM, a 500GB hard drive and a GeForce 310M that supports Optimus technology to save on battery life. It also has an overclock button built-in, although this requires a restart when switching between off and on modes.
Using CPU-Z, the overclock was revealed as bumping the bus from 133MHz to 177MHz, giving an increase in performance (with the CPU clocking up to around 2.4GHz) but decrease in battery life.
Ports are reasonable, offering HDMI and VGA out, three USB ports, an SD card reader, headphone and microphone jacks and gigabit Ethernet. Bluetooth and 802.11n are included, although the latter only supports 2.4GHz.
All of this runs on Windows 7 Professional 64-bit, but upon first run expect to spend a lot of time uninstalling the rest of the software that Asus has installed.
The usual Microsoft Office trial is there, Trend Micro is hooked in, CyberLink's Blu-ray Disc Suite is installed (despite there being no optical drive), the Game Park collection of demos has been thrown on, as well as Windows Live Essentials, PowerDVD 9, Adobe Reader 9, an eBay icon on the desktop, a link to Boingo Wi-Fi hotspots, Amazon's Kindle PC app, a Windows Live bar in Internet Explorer, and various Asus apps that vary from being useful to doing nothing more than trying to sell crap to you.
At least Control Deck has been greatly optimised with loading time hugely reduced, and responsiveness greatly increased. This is Asus' 3D overlay that allows you to browse all its tools and set screen brightness, volume, resolution and power profiles. It's actually useful, looks pretty and we're surprised there's no keyboard shortcut to it.
With Turbo Mode off, the PL30Jt reached 3262 in 3DMark06 and 3840 in PCMark05, making it a moderate performer capable of older games, and medium-level office work and web browsing. Switch Turbo Mode on and this raises to 3357 for 3DMark06 and 4082 for PCMark05, eking out a tiny bit more performance.
Battery life was impressive. Turning off all power-saving features, setting screen brightness and volume to maximum, and playing back an XviD file in full screen, the PL30Jt lasted two hours, 46 minutes and 52 seconds with Turbo Mode on, and an impressive three hours, 19 minutes and 45 seconds with it off.
Considering the features, design and thinness, the PL30Jt makes its mark as an excellent thin-and-light laptop. If you're looking for mid-range and portability, definitely check this one out.