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back to article Asus Zenbook UX31E

I honestly thought it would take the industry a lot longer to start producing Windows Ultrabooks for under a grand that are this good. The Asus Zenbook is as flat and skinny and as light as a MacBook Air without trying to look like one, and is a darn sight better connected. Asus Zenbook UX31E Smart notebook in size zero …

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Glad to see a good'un

After the abysmal reviews I've been reading of some of the other non-air ultrabooks, it's nice to see a positive one. If they had gotten this to market a few months ago I'd probably have ended up with one of these rather than an air as the early photos looked great. Unfortunately I have no willpower and wanted my tech then. Still, whenever my current machine becomes obsolete it's nice to know the non-Apple crowd aren't completely useless.

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Would have liked to know how many USB ports there are, cause unless there's at least 3 of them, you'd be forced to disconnect your mouse to connect most portable optical drives.

I'm also a bit puzzled why your benchmark tests are comparing this i7 model with a bunch of i5 and i3 models.... no surprise its getting the highest performance...

I'll definitely pass out a demerit for the lack of a back-lit for the keyboard, that also doesn't come close to using the width of the case, but I guess they just used the same keyboard in the 13.3 version as they do in the 11 inch.

It is fairly nice to get a 13" 1600x900 screen. A much better working resolution for documents, excel sheets, DAW software and image editing.

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Upgradeable-ish?

Are we talking soldered-in RAM, SSD etc?

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More to the point

Soldered-in battery?

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Possible advantage of a possible flaw.

If I were using this device in public places, or even in an office of which I was not the sole occupant, I might consider the "visual degradation depending upon viewing angle" to be a worthwhile privacy or security feature. Depending on how degraded the image becomes at off-angles.

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Okay then,

Sold.

And great review.

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Compared with the Air

This looks like the first PC ultrabook to be as good as (if not better) than my Air. Great job, ASUS. Not a bad price either.

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One wonders how anyone could possibly find anything in your post objectionable enough to down vote!

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HOW MANY MODELS DO THEY....

need to bring out before someone buys one.

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As many as it takes.

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trackpad

the rest of the internet has been going mental about the trackpad and how rubbish it is - did you have any problems with it and did you download any drivers for it?

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Unhappy

Yup, I had one of these for a week and took it back.

The trackpad was AWFUL (kept jumping about, presumably because there is no demarcation between button and track) and also the keyboard kept missing keystrokes. Utterly unusable.

If they solved them, it would be a brilliant machine. One of the few with a decent recolution, and not that 1366xwhatever cwap.

Shame.

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Bronze badge
Flame

Matches my own experience with ASUS

However, my recent case wasn't an ultrabook, but a tablet. The initial problems were mostly minor, though there was one potential show stopper there. The website was remarkably useless, but that wasn't the killer. The thing that pushed me over the edge was the one week delay (after a promise of 48 hours) before they replied, and I quote: "Is this problem solved ?" (sic)

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There you go

THAT's how you do it. Finally - an seriously sexy Ultrabook that doesn't look like a MBA ripoff. LG, pay attention.

The only problem is that Asus (to me) has a bit of a Cheap n' Cheerful reputation - not exactly premium brand material. Maybe they should create a Luxury division; like Toyota did with Lexus. Badge snobbery might cost Asus a few sales on this one.

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Anonymous Coward

"Asus (to me) has a bit of a Cheap n' Cheerful reputation "

Possible confusion with Acer? Asus generally have the reputation of being in the middle range in terms of quality (not Apple but not budget either).

Would be interesting to get a straw poll of Reg readers.

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Always been a good brand to me. Good monitors, good motherboards, good graphics cards, good laptops. Only one I didn't like was the original eeePC model, as they are a bit cheap in design and poor to maintain (we have a couple of hundred of them here).

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Happy

Have you seen some of the Asus stuff?

I have been buying Asus for nearly a decade now and their kit is amazing!

In 2006 I brough one of their W2 models with a beautiful 17" screen that was pin sharp, had a great resolution and a sub-woofer that was powerful enough to make the laptop something that you could listen to music on and still enjoy it, a top end chip and plenty of RAM. And all housed in brushed alluminium case that looks better 5 years on than my MacBook Pro 13 looks after 5 months!

The problem is that they also produce 400GBP 17" laptops that are, well, terrible. (As most at that price are). Maybe they need to make a low end brand and keep Asus for the good kit?

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Meh

Mixed-bag quality

Rock-solid, durable motherboards for sure. Prompted me to buy an Asus laptop (M50sv), which turns out to have a rubbish cooling system for the graphic chip. Put it under any significant graphics load and the GPU temp climbs to near-boiling followed by either crippling underclocking or a hard crash. Turns out the fan only cycles up if the CPU is warm, regardless of the heat load of the GPU.

So I'm one with mixed feelings regarding Asus kit.

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Megaphone

Not cheap (just cheap looking)

I was surprised by this, but Asus beat out Sony, Tosh, and Apple for reliability over a 2-3yr period. I still use a 5yo Asus C2D laptop every day (though it has to sit on a fanned cooling pad now).

http://usingapple.com/2010/04/apples-macbook-fourth-in-laptop-reliability/

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Windows

Finally!

I've been waiting for a register review of this laptop. Once Christmas is out of the way I might try and pick one up. Fast SSD, High resolution display, fast processor, small, light, good battery, runs windows, what's not to like!

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Alert

So basically you get a fake MacBook Air for the same price.

Where is the Windows PC price advantage? Gone with the wind...

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Anonymous Coward

You get a larger, higher resolution screen and a better processor than in the Mac Air at the same price.

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Anonymous Coward

And *NOT* Mac OSX

Which is probably the biggest plus!

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I suppose I should not bite but I will.

Compared to the MBA it has:

.

1. Higher res and larger screen

2. Better cpu

3. All the connectivity options (industry standard) you can shake a stick at.

4. Same price as the MBA

It does not look anything like the MBA and there major differences (for the better IMO) with regard to specs. We expect a higher standard of troll here at El Reg, please try harder next time

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Nice screen definition

the definition of the screen and the tech specs are great. thanks for the review, has better specs than a macbook air and it looks good, i found myself pondering having it.

are we at playboy here? please use honest pictures! the pictures of the laptop in the first two review pages are made from angles that make the laptop look thinner (one picture is made from above to not see the bottom below the bottom edge, and picture with overexposure as background, makes everything look thinner).

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So you quite like it then?

I must admit to having been a bit of a fan of Asus hardware over the last couple of years. It has generally tended to be well built, well priced, well specced and well thought out.

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Boffin

Deceptive photos

Note the photos in the beginning of the article on page 1 and 2; very thin, with the wedge having no receeding base. Then witness the receeding base on page 3.

If one of your assessment critera is thinness, I'd ignore these photo's and view the model in the flesh first.

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I passed

I went to see one of these in the shop when they came out and passed it up. For me a £999 laptop has to be near enough perfect. A quick play in the shop told me the screen lacks contrast coupled with the poor viewing angle. The touchpad on the model I tried was poor, it seemed very unresponsive and a pain to use. I've also read reviews claiming that typing is uncomfortable due to the sharp edge at the front of the machine, I wasn't able to get a feel for this in the shop.

It's a very nice first attempt, I think I'll wait for the version 2 with ivy bridge. This is the machine that came closest to meeting my spec for a new laptop.

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Anonymous Coward

That's not my name

How do you pronounce the name of this company? On the Comet advert it says A-ZOO-S. I just read it as A-SUS. Nothing to do with the review though, I know, so to get back on topic I'd like to second that deceptive photos comment.

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Anonymous Coward

re: that's not my name

The A-ZOO-S pronounciation is correct. Was at their stand at a trade show recently and that is how they were pronouncing it themselves. Had previously read it the same way you did.

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As someone once said...

An ultrabook by any other name would work so well....

Sorry Will, thanks Julie.

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Bronze badge

A-ZOO-S is indeed the 'correct' pronunciation but the company itself tends to use A-SUS in promotional material produced for/by English speakers. (Or maybe their PR company just didn't get the memo.)

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Missed

Is it possible to upgrade any part of this machine?

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Where can you buy one

Hi, I've been keen to buy one of these, an other guy in the office has one and loves it, however PC World have pulled it from their website and the link at the begining of the article doesn't work either.

Does anyone know if these are still available? I was hoping they would release the version available in the states with the 256gb ssd.

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FAIL

Don't care if it's not upgradeable, but please, 8GB is the new black.

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Just curious. Do The Reg keep stats on the hardware review scores? It seems that 95% of stuff reviewed is within 70-90%, with stuff having to be exceptionally good/bad to go beyond. Even this, clearly a very good item, falls in this bracket.

How about you just use 1-5 stars? Saves the planet all those wasted %'s.

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Anonymous Coward

Looks good

The trackpad sounds like an issue but then again, the only decent built in trackpad I've used is on my Air. I'm hoping to get hold of a Logitech Touchpad for the office (Windows 7) laptop and I'm hoping It will be every bit as nice to use with Windows as the Magic trackpad is with Lion.

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Linux

Typing from an eee pc 901...

running Gentoo Linux, I have to ask:

did you try any linux distro on it?

(ubuntu is usually easier for a first check for drivers, h/w support, etc., PCLinuxOS is usually equally easy to run from a live CD-- and faster than ubuntu)

It would be nice to know if Linux runs ok.

Reg h/w reviews often include a paragraph or two reporting on this issue. It may be a little more difficult, since there is no optical drive, but an external one should be OK.

Please consider adding it to your standard review procedures, I think it would be appreciated by your readers.

As for ASUS reliability, etc.:

I have been using this small thing ever since I bought it, 3 years and a couple of months ago (Sep '08) for at least 8 hours every work day, usually continuing at home and on weekends (I usually ssh from it to my desktop machine from my home network) and, apart from some trouble now and then with the left touchpad button, it works extremely smoothly.

I consider it one of my best buys, and I bought it after reading the Reg review.

It may not be a lightning-fast machine, but (with the extra space provided by an external drive) it has compiled quite a few linux kernels, firefox, even OpenOffice, to name a few things.

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Anonymous Coward

Personal experience

It's a very nice machine.

- An illuminated keyboard would be nice.

- Bundled sleeve is quite high quality, and very useful. The pouch for the extra cables is also a nice touch.

- Battery actually lasts quite longer than 5 hours (closer to 6), with regular wireless/web/document editing workload. YMMV.

- The keys are well seperated and feel solid, but the tops are too flat. May take some getting used to. This is not a thinkpad, that's for sure.

- Touchpad works ok, but occasionally misinterprets multitouches. Not as good as MBA.

- The bundled Asus Cloud Storage thing can crash Windows Explorer intermittently. Very annoying. Just get rid of it, you'll be fine.

- The bundled crapware games thing needs to go. Unluckily each game is installed seperately, uninstall gets annoying.

- Bundled antivirus is trialware, and may refuse to update. False sense of security. I chose to use the very neat, light and free Microsoft Security Essentials over it.

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Meh

No 256GB SSD in the UK

It's really annoying as I have been waiting for this laptop for several months - one of the few that match my requirements for screen res and size etc.

Sadly the primary problem I'm seeing is that the SSD is just too small. 128GB is not bad, but I've been using 160GB for a while and it's a tight fit as it is, so dropping 32 gig is no mean feat!

While the 256GB SSDs are offered in other countries, you just can't get one in the UK model (I asked Asus directly and there are no current plans to offer a UK keyboard layout with 256 SSD). Such a shame :( I would certainly like to know if I can upgrade it in the future if I did opt for the smaller drive.

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Seems the 256Gb SSD version is available: http://www.portagadgets.com/uk/ASUS-Zenbook-UX31-Ultrabook.html

Found through google shopping.

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