Asus’s first step in the ultrabook market brings the Asus Zenbook UX31, sporting a herculean Core i7 processor and 4GB RAM, all housed in a robust aluminum case. The sector leader is clearly Apple with its Macbook Air, which costs $1300, and Asus is undercutting the Air by $200. So is it cutting corners at the same time? The Zenbook has been available from October 21st. The main aim of ultrabooks is to be slim and portable, and UX31 Zenbook is sufficiently svelte, yet still powerful enough to justify any premium compared with netbooks, which are the low-spec answer to highly portable computing. Enjoy these Asus Zenbook UX31 pics:
At its thickest, the Zenbook UX-31 measures 17mm, and it tapers to a wafer-thin 3mm at the front, as slim as Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Air. The UX-31 measures 325 x 224 x 3~17mm, so is easily small enough to slip into small bags. The Zenbook is constructed from a single piece of aluminum for improved stability, and it feels solid, with no flex while we type frantically. The lid deviates from the current fad of brushed metal – this is a spun-metal pattern. The 13.3″ display features a 1600 x 900 resolution, beating the Air’s 1400 x 900 resolution for pixel density and producing very sharp images.
The microHDMI port allows users to connect it up to a full-sized screen for watching movies, but the 13-incher suffices well for browsing or general use. The blacks are not perfectly black, but this is an ultraportable, not an artist’s workstation, and normally you’d only notice any faults if you were looking for them.
The square island-style keys of Asus UX-31 Zenbook’s keyboard are set deep, so a few mistakes at high speed are unavoidable while users adjust to the keyboard. The glass trackpad is a simply enormous expanse of glass, with an integrated clickable lower portion serving as mouse buttons. It gives accurate control across the full extent of the display.
For connectivity Asus UX-31 Zenbook has a USB-3 slot, one USB-2, then the micro HDMI and mini VGA sockets, an SD card reader and a mic/headphone jack. The USB-3 port uses Asus’s Charger+ technology enabling users to charge devices such as smartphones more quickly. We only saw this machine at an exhibition, so the typical benchmark tests will have to wait for a fuller review, but the i7 processor and 4GB RAM, together with the 128GB SSD should be capable of playing all but the latest games at native resolutions, and will have no problem running office suites.
One annoyance with Asus UX-31 Zenbook is that simple folk not wanting such a powerful CPU will have to settle for the 11-inch version, the UX-21. So Apple MacBook Air wins on configuration options – their 11-inch Air is available with i5 or i7 processor. Furthermore, there’s no i3 option to give a lower-priced entry point to the ultrabook market.
Intels integrated graphics on Asus UX-31 is good for HD video, and together with the lack of moving parts in the SSD, good battery life is ensured, and the solid state drive also enables the UX-31 to wake from sleep mode in two seconds, matching the Acer Aspire S3’s main claim to fame. Another clever trick is the UX-31’s habit of saving your work once battery life falls to 5%.
This performance chart clearly depicts Asus UX-31 to be a great performer, trailing only behind MacBook Air and way above average. (Picture provided by Cnet)
So, it seems the Asus UX-31 Zenbook is a very creditable alternative to the Macbook Air, and a better deal than the Acer Aspire S3