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Asus Zenbook UX31E review

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Asus Zenbook

The Zenbook is essentially a Windows-based version of the MacBook Air, and the performance is exceptional considering the compact and lightweight chassis, but the trackpad lets it down.

Pros:

Great looking and lightweight chassis, Core i7 , excellent resume time, good battery life

Cons:

Horrible trackpad, high-end specification isn't cheap

Overall Rating:

4 Star Rating: Recommended

Price: £999 as reviewed

Manufacturer: Asus

Traditional devices such as laptops and netbooks are under severe pressure as manufacturers roll out increasingly powerful smartphones and tablets.

Sales have been suffering and, in an attempt to keep portable x86-based devices relevant, Intel has teamed up with companies such as Asus to launch the Ultrabook category.

Asus has decided to brand its UX31E Ultrabook as a Zenbook in an attempt to differentiate itself from rivals Acer, Lenovo and Toshiba, which will all release devices before the year is out.

Beautifully crafted machine
At first glance, the Zenbook looks remarkably similar to the Apple MacBook Air in terms of design, and a closer look reveals that the specifications are similar.

 Asus Zenbook UX31E front view

The Zenbook has a solid metal chassis and a lovely aluminium finish, making this one of the best looking Windows-based laptops on the market. We think it looks every bit as good as the MacBook Air, and the metallic finish means it's not going to get as grubby as the Apple device.

The V-shaped design of the chassis means that the frame has a thickness of 3mm at the front and 9mm at the rear, and the laptop looks particularly impressive from the side.

However, a feature we don't like is the sealed back, which makes it impossible to swap out the battery on the move, something that travelling business users are likely to want to do.

Asus Zenbook UX31E side on

We expected the full-body metal chassis to add significant weight, but the Zenbook tips the scales at a very reasonable 1.3kg, about 50g lighter than the 13in MacBook Air.

Ultra-bright display
The 13.3in LED backlit display offers a maximum resolution of 1,600x900. Details are very crisp, but we did find icons and fonts a little on the small side. This could be a problem for some people and, since 1,600x900 is the optimal resolution, changing the resolution seems only to distort the picture quality.

The display is almost too bright when turned up full, especially in an office environment with overhead lighting. We found that the white background pierced our eyes when typing documents, for example, and needed to be toned down. It does work well in low-lit conditions, though.

13.3in HD LED-backlit display (1,600x900), Intel Core i7 2677M dual-core 1.8GHz processor, 4GB DDR3 RAM, 128GB SSD drive, 1 x headphone-out jack (Audio-in Combo), 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x micro HDMI, 1 x Mini VGA, 2-in-1 card reader, 1.3kg, Windows 7 Professional 64-bit

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Khidr Suleman
About

Khidr Suleman is a reporter at V3.co.uk, a role he has fulfilled since June 2010. He covers business hardware news and reviews, including smartphones, laptops, tablets, projectors and printers, as well as online applications.

Prior to joining V3.co.uk, Khidr worked as a freelance technology journalist. He studied law at the University of Reading and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism and Online Writing at PMA Training.

 

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