Asus Zenbook Prime UX51Vz – An Attractive And Sophisticated Ultrabook (Part 1)

4/20/2013 3:20:16 PM

Windows 8 has created a new era of category-defying devices, with the hybrid computers that are flooding the market. When almost all of our tested Windows 8 products own professional capabilities, it is easy to forget the normal laptop which also operates the new Microsoft operating system. Such computer is the $1,949 Asus ZenBook UX51Vz, a 15 inch Ultrabook with the decorations of a multimedia machine, including a quad-core Core i7 processor, GT650M Nvidia graphics and 1080p IPS screen. It does not have one thing: a touchscreen, which is available on many of other Windows 8 laptops, that has not mentioned the upcoming Zenbook Prime model. If considering that omission, is UX51Vz still an appealing choice at this super high price? Keep reading to find out.

Look and feel

The thickness of Asus Zenbook Prime

The thickness of Asus Zenbook Prime

ASUS’s Zenbook series get very high score for its design, and UX51Vz has a featured metal lid as its predecessors. These features create a classical super-slim Ultrabook (as being documented by UX31A and UX21A), and they still make a long forward step in making the 15 inch size of UX51Vz more acceptable. Of course, it does not bring the satisfaction feeling as 13 inch Zenbook does, but it is really appealing for a large rectangular. However, we did not say that this laptop is ultra-thin: 4 pound heavy and 0.99 inch thick at the thickest part, it cannot be compared with the 15 inch Samsung Series 9 which weighs 3.5 pound and 9.58 inches thick.

In addition to the magnificent design, UX51Vz has the build quality of a luxury computer. Holding it in hands brings us the feel of sturdy and very light for a 4 pound machine. The hinge exhibits no audible sound and the lid and the bottom do not bend under pressure. Flip the laptop over, you will see that the brushed-metal motif carries over to the bottom. Asus has sealed off the bottom, so you cannot easily access the battery and SSD drive…

It is time for an official tour: on the left side of UX51Vz, you will find the power jack, Ethernet port, HDMI and two 3.0 USB ports. On the right side are places for mircoSD card, other 3.0 USB ports, mini-VGA and a design for the tiny external subwoofer, which is already lay in the box. Asus also packed up a mini-VGA-to-VGA dongle, along with the USB-to-micro-USB converter. Turn back to the deck, the speaker grille lies at the top of the keyboard. On the front edge of the system, beneath the trackpad, you will find 4 indicators (for hard drive, wireless, num lock and caps lock)

Keyboard and trackpad

The keyboard

The keyboard

Since UX51Vz does not have the touchscreen support, the spotlight shines extra brightly on the keyboard and touchpad. Because they are internal options for interacting with the touch-optimized operating system of Microsoft, you will want to assure that these are nice tools. We are happy to state that the potential of safety and efficient performance is possible.

First, the slightly recessed, island-style keyboard provides enough space that makes typing a smooth and fluid experience. You will not get trouble with the individual letters due to shallow keys. When we tried checking the typing, we reached the average speed but made few errors. Another highlight: the palm rest is large, so your wrists will not dangle off the edge of the machine.

The touchpad is situated slightly off to the left side of the deck, and it's plenty roomy. We found it to be a noticeable improvement over other Zenbooks such as the UX31A. Windows 8 gestures like swiping in from the right to reveal the Charms Bar work reliably, though single-finger tracking is still a bit finicky. It's really an issue of having to apply more pressure than you might like to get the cursor under your control. And, if you've played with any touch-enabled Windows 8 machines, your biggest problem will be overcoming the instinct to touch the display.

The touchpad is set slightly off to the left side of the deck, and it is quite large. We thought that it was such a considerable innovation compared to the previous version of Zenbook like UX31A. Windows 8 gestures, like swiping in from the right to open the Charms Bar, work reliably, although the single-finger tracking is still somehow sophisticated. It is really a problem that you have to use more pressure than what you want to have the cursor controlled. If you played with touch-enabled Windows 8 computers, your biggest problem would be overcoming the desire to touch the screen.

Display and sound

Asus Zenbook Prime display

Asus Zenbook Prime display

With the resolution of 1080p, the IPS 15.6 inch screen of UX51Vz provides a huge space for watching videos and surfing webs. The screen quality is especially notable when you see the start interface of Windows 8: the tiles have bright and true colors against the lively background. This is a colorful UI and this screen increases its value. The matte finish and IPS technology also bring a wide angle view – you can tip the screen a way forwards before the images are blurred, and there will be no more problem watching Netflix with friends, because we did not see any problem viewing the action even at the extreme off-angles.

Of course, we cannot fully sum up everything about this laptop’s display without considering what is obviously absent. The lack of touchscreen on a $1,949 machine – is very curious. Yes, the addition of a touchscreen will increase the weight of such heavy laptop, but according to the finger-friendly interface of Windows 8, UX51Vz looks like an incomplete version of the W8 experience. We found ourselves usually tapping at the screen as a routine, but quickly adapted to the non-touch model – keyboard with fast and comfortable clickpad, of course make this lack easier to accept. Then again, UX51Vz is not a convertible laptop, so you cannot use it in the tablet mode that you sometimes desire to use.

The built-in stereo speaker of UX51Vz is based on the Bang & Olufsen ICE Power Audio technology, and they provide loud sound – but quite fuzzy. Songs and videos play back with a moderate bass amount, although audio-fans will note that it should have been more flexible. However, in order to improve the multimedia ability of laptop, Asus includes an external SonicMaster subwoofer in the UX51Vz. Plugging it in, you will enjoy more powerful sound. This accessory enhances the gaming and music enjoying; of course we advise you to keep it on hand.

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