- Awesome design and quality
- Great high-resolution screen
- ~6 hours battery
- Great value
- So-so keyboard and touchpad
- No keyboard backlighting
At $1,099 MSRP the ASUS ZENBOOK is a fine product and a tempting alternative to the more-expensive MacBook Air
The ASUS Zenbook UX31 is one of the first “Ultrabooks” on the market — an impossibly thin and light notebook with a beautiful high-res 13.3-inch screen, 6 hours of battery, and a price that undercuts the Apple MacBook Air.
Build and Design
The UX31 is all about design — and it is truly stunning. Constructed almost entirely of aluminum, the UX31 is solid as, well, metal. The chassis has almost zero flex and the lid is just as strong. Even the keyboard keys are made of aluminum.
The edges of the notebook are tapered off to give the impression the notebook is even thinner than it actually is. All corners and edges of the notebook are smoothed off and not sharp in the least; overall fit and finish is excellent.
The UX31’s lid has a darker metallic surface with has a circular pattern giving it a more robust look and feel than the competing MacBook Air. I like how the lid can be opened with one hand. The lid almost seems to be a bit too loose but I had no issues with the design during the evaluation period.
ASUS pulled out all the stops with this design and it shows. Many notebooks pass through my hands; it is not often one comes around that makes me do a double-take. The UX31 is certainly one of the few.
Ports and Features
A casualty of being so thin is a lack of ports; all of the ports sit at the rear because the chassis gets thinner towards the front. ASUS includes two port adapters: a USB-to-Ethernet and mini-VGA-to-VGA (which is the first time I have seen the latter on any notebook). The only major item the UX31 is lacking is a built-in HDMI port; it has mini-HDMI however you will need to purchase an adapter on your own. All picture descriptions are left to right.
Left: USB 2.0, headphone jack, media card reader
Right: Mini-HDMI, mini-VGA, USB 3.0, AC power