KEEPING THE EDGE
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.