Asus Zenbook UX21 review
Asus enters the ultrabook market with the Zenbook UX21, a feisty little number crammed into a slender but solid aluminum shell. It measures 297mm x 196mm x 3-17mm and it’s fashioned from a single piece of aluminum, so is sturdy and durable. Its minimalist, unadorned design gives the UX21 has a no-nonsense businesslike appearance. It weighs 1.1kg, approaching the limit for something described as ultraportable.
Asus enters the ultrabook market with the Zenbook UX21, a feisty little number crammed into a slender but solid aluminum shell. Like the Acer Aspire S3 and the slightly 13.3″ CHECK UX-31, this ultrabook competes with the runanway sector leasder, the Macbook Air. The three magic ingredients for any ultraportable are svelteness, lightness, and powerful spec – these machines are expected to be suitable for demanding office use. Tapering down from 17mm to 3mm thickness, the Asus Zenbook UX21 is seriously slim. Its full dimensions are 297mm x 196mm x 3-17mm and fashioned from a single piece of aluminum instead of a load of separate parts, so it feels sturdy and durable. With its minimalist, unadorned design, the UX-21 has a no-nonsense business-like appearance.
It weighs 1.1kg, which for users is nearing the limits for something described as ultraportable, but unless you’re a sightseer or a cycle courier lugging around the equivalent of a bag of sugar now and again should be OK. The trite brushed metal finish of the pre-ultrabook era makes way for the same unusual spun metal design as the UX31.
THe 11.6″ 1366 x 768-pixel display is impressively bright and very sharp. Viewing angles are good.
The island-style keys low to the keyboard surface, so feedback is less than ideal, and touch-typing at speed can bring the odd typo. Teething troubles perhaps. It’s not backlit, although entry level ultrabooks probably shouldn’t be beating mid-range notebooks on every count.
The track-pad is a sizable slab of clickable glass, multitouch-enabled and responsive. A three-fingered downward swipe takes you to the desktop, a rightwards ‘triple’ swipe shows all open windows in a carousel…it’s these little things that make heavy workloads easier to bear.
Port-wise the UX21 offers one each of USB-2 and USB-3 ports, micro-HDMI and mini-VGA sockets, and a mic/headphone jack. The USB features Asus’s USB Charger+ technology for speedy charging of external devices. Ethernet connection is only through the bundled USB Ethernet adaptor.
An Intel Core i5 processor is chugging along with 4GB RAM in tow, teamed with a snappy 128GB SSD. With less screen real estate, Intel’s integrated graphics processor is less stressed – benchmark scores beat Asus’s own NX90Jq, with its i7 CPU and 6GB RAM, and the i7 Acer Aspire 5755G, though a 1.8GHz i7-configured Macbook Air has an 8-10% performance advantage, but don’t be misled. You’ll have to settle for such games as Driver 2 and Half Life 2 for gaming enjoyment, but they’re much better than Minesweeper for lifting the spirits. HD video and multi-tabbed browsing are more ideal activities for the UX-21. Needless to say it’ll cruise through anything your boss can throw at you.
It wakes from sleep in two seconds and cold-boots in 21, excellent. It even auto-saves documents when battery life falls to 5%.
Thrashing the UX21 delivers shutdown after 2hrs 24 mins, buzt sensible usage gives over five hours of battery life.
The UX21 costs $1199.99. Its big brother, the 13″ Zenbook UX31, features an i7 processor, but performancewise there’s nothing in it. All in all, the Zenbook UX21 is the best ultrabook alternative to the Macbook Air yet.
Check out this review video of Asus Zenbook UX21: