One of the most portable and affordable ultrabooks on the market, but the UX21E is not quite going to fulfil the needs of business users.
Looks great, highly portable, lightning performance
Disappointing battery life, terrible trackpad
£849 as reviewed
Model: Asus Zenbook UX21E
Display: 11.6in HD with 1,366x768 resolution
Processor: Intel Core i5 2467M dual-core (1.6GHz)
Storage: 128GB SSD
Operating system: Windows 7 Home Premium as standard
Wireless connections: 802.11 a/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
Ports: 1xUSB 2.0, 1xUSB 3.0 1x mini VGA, 1 x micro HDMI
Battery: Up to five hours
Asus has launched a pint-sized ultrabook that aims to provide business users with a Windows equivalent of the acclaimed 11in Apple Macbook Air.
For those who have been following the rise of the ultrabooks, the UX21E will look rather familiar. The laptop is almost identical to the Asus UX31E when it comes to design, performance and build quality. For the most part this is a positive, but it also means that the UX21E has the same flaws especially in relation to the usability of the keyboard and trackpad.
Of course the first thing that you'll notice is the shiny aluminium finish, which helps the device to stand out when showcased against rival machines, even the MacBook Air range. The V-shaped design of the chassis means that the thickness of the device varies. The front-edge has a thickness of 3mm and gets increasingly thicker as you approach the rear, maxing out at 9mm. The device weighs a total of 1.1kg, making it 200g lighter than the 13in ultrabook and just a tad heavier than the equivalent MacBook Air (1.08kg).
A common trend among manufacturers has been to seal the back cover, which stops users from swapping batteries on the move, and also makes it impossible to carry out any upgrades such as adding RAM without taking the device to a specialist. The UX21E will not be the last laptop to have this design feature, and although it is very annoying it looks like something users are going to have to get used to.