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Spreading itself rather thin

With MacBook Air rivalling dimensions, Asus’s UX31 is lightning quick and quite portable, but the bad keyboard and trackpad are the flies in the ointment.

india Updated: Jan 02, 2012 16:54 IST
Karan Shah
Karan Shah
Hindustan Times
Asus UX31,MacBook Air,Intel Core i7 processor

The Asus UX31 looks quite stunning with its all-metal finish. It’s thin, stylish and can be easily mistaken for a laptop sleeve. The matte silver around the keyboard adds to the look and the entire laptop is practically fingerprint-free.

The Zenbook, as the company calls it, is extremely thin and only the most important ports like USB 3.0, mini VGA, and SD card reader and HDMI have been included. We have mixed feelings about the notebook’s build, though. The power slot is extremely delicate and wobbly when the charger is connected. So much so, that a slight push or nudge might just break it. But in terms of design, the Zenbook clearly holds its own in this huge market full of similar looking laptops.

The 13.3-inch UX31 has quite a high resolution of 1600x900 and is powered by an Intel Core i7 processor running at a frequency of 1.8GHz. There’s 4GB of RAM, a 256GB solid-state drive (SSD) and Intel’s integrated HD 3000 graphics card. Apart from this, there’s Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi b/g/n, a webcam with Bang and Olufsen speakers.

Boot up times are exceptionally quick, at an average of 16 seconds, so you’ll start off with your work within no time. The brightness levels of the laptop are brilliant; in fact, they’re almost blinding even if you’re in a lowly lit environment. The B&O speakers flex their muscles when you play music or movies. They’re quite loud and good for personal usage.

However, the notebook’s biggest flaws are the trackpad and keyboard. Buttons on the keyboard have poor feedback and the manoeuvring on the trackpad isn’t exactly quick.
As far as heating is concerned, the UX31 does a brilliant job keeping things cool.

Great battery life. The Zenbook comes with a powerful, non-removable battery. Under heavy usage with the brightness maxed out, you can still crank out three hours and 40 minutes of non-stop usage, which is definitely an impressive feat. Under normal use, you will easily be able to double that to around six and a half hours.

The Zenbook UX31 is priced at Rs 89,999. For those on-the-go, a powerful battery coupled with portability is always a brilliant feature to have in your laptop, and the Zenbook offers just that. Just beware the glitchy keyboard and trackpad. In comparison to the similarly spec’ed Lenovo U300s, this one looks and performs better. But, simply for the want of a better keyboard and trackpad, we would recommend the latter.

Rating: ***

What we like
Extremely slender build
Packed with powerful hardware and software
Superb battery life

What we don’t
Trackpad isn’t easy to use
Keyboard buttons are iffy

First Published: Jan 02, 2012 13:49 IST