Gadgets and Gizmos (India) - - ULTRA BOOKS -

Me­tal might be as­so­ci­ated with brawn, but it can also be stylish, in a ma­cho sort of way. The Asus UX31 Zenbook is all about style with a metal­lic edge, quite lit­er­ally. The edge comes from the taper to­wards the front, mak­ing this ul­tra­thin Ul­tra­book look even thin­ner. The sharp fea­tures are ac­cen­tu­ated by the taper com­ing in from the bot­tom too—the front thick­ness is just 3 mm, while it is 9 mm at the rear giv­ing this de­vice a clamshell kind of feel.

Asus says it was aim­ing for an an­gu­lar har­mony with the de­sign, and we must agree that they have been suc­cess­ful. De­spite the all-alu­minum body, the etched con­cen­tric cir­cles on the cover and the lin­ear brushed deck blend into each other seam­lessly. Even the key­pad is em­bed­ded with the me­tal keys look­ing like they were a part of the body. There are no other buttons be­yond the key­pad into which even the power but­ton has been added. The track­pad be­low is large and very re­spon­sive, though there is no multi-touch. You can, how­ever, swipe through pic­tures.

Here too, the speak­ers have been blended into the hinge and still give the best sound among the Ul­tra­books we have seen. For this feat we have to thank Bang & Ol­fusen, whose Icepower Son­icmaster pow­ers these speak­ers. But the real hero of this Zenbook story is just above the speak­ers – the 13.3” 450 nits HD + 1600X900 screen. No doubt this is the best screen among Ul­tra­books avail­able now, but we also doubt if even reg­u­lar lap­tops have come up with some­thing as good. There is hardly any glare at reg­u­lar viewing an­gles, nor do you get the feel­ing that im­age is washed out.

The unit we tested was run­ning an In­tel Core i7 2677M CPU with a Win­dows Home Pre­mium 64-bit and was up to the task at all times. There was no lag­gard­ness with even high-res­o­lu­tion pics or HD video. The Zenbook takes just two sec­onds to spring back to life from sleep and re­ally pushes the stan­dard for its ri­vals. There is a Mi­cro-sd slot and two USB ports, in­clud­ing a USB 3.0. The unit comes with a fab­ric pouch car­ry­ing HDMI and VGA adapters, which you can plug into the mi­cro ports in the Ul­tra­book. De­spite the su­perb per­for­mance the Zenbook can en­sure about seven hours of juice on full per­for­mance.

Sadly, the Zenbook, which is cheaper than the Macbook Air in the US, is sell­ing in In­dia for 89,999, mak­ing it one of the costli­est Ul­tra­books around. It is an­other thing that the per­for­mance and fea­tures sort of jus­ti­fies the price.

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