Product Asus Zenbook UX31E
Specifications 13.3in HD LED-backlit 1600x900 display, Intel Core i7 2677M dual-core 1.8GHz processor, 4GB of DDR3 RAM, 128GB SSD drive, 1 x headphone-out and audio-in combo jack, 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
Price £999 as reviewed
ASUS IS ATTEMPTING to attack Apple and its Macbook Air range with the launch of an ultra slim, lightweight Windows 7 machine packed with juicy Intel Core i7 goodness.
The Zenbook is part of the 'Ultrabook' product category, the brain child of Intel as it tries to stop the masses from being brainwashed into buying ARM-based tablets instead of larger machines using its x86 chip-based architecture.
Asus has decided to brand its UX31E Ultrabook as a 'Zenbook' in an attempt to differentiate it from other Ultrabooks by its rivals Acer, Lenovo and Toshiba, which will all release devices before the year is out. We were largely impressed with the ultra-slim laptop, but there are a few niggles including the trackpad that did let it down.
At first glance, the Zenbook looks remarkably similar to the Apple MacBook Air in terms of design, and there isn't much to separate them in terms of specifications either.
The Zenbook has a solid metal chassis and a lovely aluminium finish, making this one of the best looking Windows laptops on the market. We think it looks every bit as good as the Macbook Air, and the metallic finish means it doesn't get as grubby as the fruit themed laptop.
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.
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. You can easily pick it up with one hand and if you travel a lot, carrying it around all day is not going to be a problem.
The only real design feature we're not thrilled by is the sealed back, which makes it impossible to swap out the battery when it's on its last legs, but it looks like a trend that is here to stay.
The 13.3in LED backlit display offers a maximum resolution of 1600x900. It's not the biggest display out there, but for portability it's a very good size. 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 1600x900 is the optimal resolution, it's not a good idea to scale down.
The display is almost too bright when cranked up to full, especially in environments 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.
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