Anatomy of Utrabooks (Part 3) - ASUS ZENBOOK UX31

4/6/2012 9:24:28 AM

Anatomy of Utrabooks (Part 3)


Description: 276312-asus-zenbook-ux31-rsl8-right

If Ultrabook was a combination of beauty and solid, Zenbook UX31 of Asus would be a perfect model for this. In spite of having the fastest processor in the modern product line and as-quick-as-lighting SandForce SSD, Asus made a success of creating such an elegant product which wasn’t common sight to see. 

Being covered by the aluminum machine outworked monoshell, definitely Zenbook UX31 of Asus was a visual marvel. Meanwhile showing respect to the image of MacBook Air – it tapered down from 21mm plump at the back to several mm in the front edge – the latest Asus product struggled to keep its unique personality. The concentric circles radiated the whole dark silver lid together with spick and span lines inside completely contrast with the detailed design along the hinge.

It wasn’t perfect. If you looked at every inch of that carefully, occasionally you could meet up with the ill-polished metal substance. However, with the very first attempt, there was no doubt about the fact that Zenbook looked so impressive.

The solid metal body made Zenbook UX31 a little bit heavier than the Portege Z830 1.09kg of Toshiba, but not much. With 1.40kg, Asus was light enough to nearly vanish in your bag. The stable base and hard lid made it become a machine looked like a 13” MacBook Air of Apple. Whenever mentioning about the building quality, there was no Windows laptop in the same class as that of Zenbook.     


Under the charming cover was the heart of the fast ultraportable. The Core i7 processor run in 1.8GHz, over locked into 2.9GHz whenever needed speed along with a fast SSD. It was a powerful combination, and enough to boost Asus into the first place in our Real World Benchmarks test, with the result of 0.62.

All of the parts together made it a laptop fulfilled the daily tasks as a piece of cake. A cold boot would allow the Windows background appeared in approximately 20 seconds, and thanks to the Instant On technology of Asus, Zenbook UX31 would wake up from the hibernating mood in about 2 seconds. Besides, it was the perfect travel companion with 8 hours 53 minutes in the light-duty use. Asus not only responded quickly but also kept running while many of its rivals had to come back to the sockets.

It was difficult in refusing the alluring charm of Zenbook UX31. The speakers under the brand name of Bang & Olufsen made powerful sound, meanwhile the enhance display screen 1,600x900 all over the 13.3”. With all other laptops which had the resolution of 1,366x768 or lower, the additional pixel of Asus was welcomed enthusiastically.

However, there were still some disappointing aspects, and the screen was the first one. It was too bright to see – the maximum brightness was 506cd/m2 – but the image quality was not completely perfect. The temperature of 7051K got the screen bluish tint, while the 204:1 contrast ratio made it struggle in appearing the details in the darker scenes.

Touchpad and keyboard

Till the first time we examined the Zenbook UX31, we had plenty of complaints about the mirror touchpad. Fortunately, several months later there was the announcement of many updating drivers which solved a lot of current problems.  

The mirror surface let the finger feel the smoothness like the old ones, and the updating drivers made a significant difference in the promptness, quicker response in mouse moving and less shaking touchpad. 

The keyboard of Asus could be divided into many ways. Brick-shaped Scrabble buttons were balanced with the wide distance in between, and in case there were not many actions in each keystroke, this action definitely would create the feeling of a luxury. However, it wasn’t outstanding because it caused the paralytic feeling under the fingers compared with the best keyboard; besides, the lighter press was hard to recognize. This was the keyboard which required each and every one powerful keystroke. 

The last complaint was ill backlit keyboard. With those who didn’t feel like blundering around in the dark, it was the most remarkable flaw.

As for the connectivity, these disadvantages could be understood, but at least it was much better than other Ultrabook. Asus crammed the one and only USB3 port in the right flank, and SD card reader, headphone output and USB2 in the left flank. Despite the fact that there was no room for the big-sized output, but you have the 3 mini-D-SUB and a micro-HDMI. However, there was nothing to complain about the connectivity with a one-band 802.11n and a Bluetooth 4, but at least it had 1 USB Ethernet adapter.

Besides, Asus also offered a D-SUB adapter in a box – both could be put into a small travel bag – and to those who cared about the fashion would highly appreciate its cushioned cover fitted perfectly for the laptop. Last but not least, about the power supply: Asus was one out of few manufacturers accepting the small wall wart PSU.

There was no doubt that Asus Zenbook was an amazing laptop. It was equipped with a lot of significant elements, gorgeous, powerful, well-designed and high resolution display screen which made all its rivals cowed. However, it wasn’t perfect of course and if Dell decreased the price of XPS 13, UX31 would have come to the 2nd place. At the end of the day, Asus Zenbook UX31 was our champion, but the price seemed to be a bit high.

Price: $1,800

Battery life in light-duty use: 8 hours 53 minutes

Performance: 5 stars

Battery life: 6 stars

Features/design: 4 stars

Value: 4 stars

Average judgment: 5 stars


1. Asus keyboard seemed to be its weakness. No backlit and trend of missing feeling in each keystroke, therefore, it wasn’t our most favorite keyboard.

2. The updating drivers made the miracles to its touchpad, far from the slow mouse control in the former models.

+ Zenbook UX31 was the product originated from the real passion. Its appearance was nearly perfect, with curved hinge and heat given off design made it an impressive laptop.

+With Asus logo in the middle, the dark silver circles radiating all over the super tough lid of Zenbook. Thanks to its firm design and lovely style, Asus completed its job excellently.

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