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ASUS Zenbook UX31E-DH52

, 28 Feb 2012 CPOL
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The Zenbook is one of the new Intel-inspired “Ultrabooks.”
It?s the first thing you see, and you want it to pop. The Zenbook certainly does that. The brushed steel case looks great. The top can show fingerprint under the right light, but you?d have to be looking to notice. Plus it cleans off easily. The screen is bright and vibrant. The key caps on the keyboard have the same finish as the rest of the case. The speaker bar is built into the hinge, which is an attractive touch. Altogether, it makes for a very appealing package.

Build Quality

I?ve been impressed in this area as well. The entire computer just feels solid. The hinge is tight enough that it won?t move around or slip unless you push it. I?ve owned a laptop that had a loose hinge, and it?s more annoying than it sounds. The hinge is the only moving part on the external of this laptop, so nothing rattles around or comes loose. I?ve used the laptop heavily for the last for weeks. I?ve been putting the laptop in my gym bag to bring with me to work, and it?s held up quite nicely.

Hardware

It?s an impressive set of statistics for such a small laptop. It got an Intel Core i5 2557M processor and 4 GB of DDR3 RAM. It?s got a SanDisk U100 128GB SSD. Built in Bluetooth is a nice plus, but that?s really becoming common these days. USB 3 is an excellent inclusion. I?ve recently purchased a portable USB 3 hard drive, and I have to say, there is a very noticeable difference in transfer speed. Battery life is great. I?ve been leaving my charging cable at work, and just bringing the laptop home. It hasn?t run dry yet, but I don?t really push the computer that hard at home. The only thing I would honestly prefer to see better is the graphics hardware. It?s the Intel HD Graphics family hardware. For most applications, you?d never notice, but it would be a nice option to be able to play some games when you?re done with work for the day.

Ports

I think they?ve found a good balance between too few ports (like the MacBook Air), and too many, which would necessarily increase the size of the machine. It has 1 USB3, 1 USB2, a headphones jack, a power port, a mini-display port, and a mini-HDIM port. ASUS also included a USB-to-Ethernet adapter as well as a mini-DP-to-VGA adapter. A DVI adapter might have been a bit more useful, but more and more monitors are supporting Display Port directly these days.

Keyboard

As I mentioned in the previous review, I?m somewhat of a keyboard nerd. It sounds crazy, but people like me do exist. For a laptop keyboard, I have to say it?s good. Better than most I?ve used. The MacBook Pro?s keyboard is better, but this is close. One issue I?ve had with it is that you have to hit the keys right in the middle for them to actuate. I?ve actually typed this review on the laptop, and I find I frequently have to go back and fix words where I missed a letter. This is most pronounced with the shift keys, since they?re so long. If you hit it on the corner, it?ll feel like you?ve pushed it down, but it won?t actually register. Not a deal breaker, of course, but it?s annoying. It has gotten better the more I?ve used it, so I guess that it?s a ?train yourself? issue. Still, could be better.

Trackpad

Well, it?s another comparison with the MacBook, and just like the keyboard, it?s almost as, but not quite as good as the Mac. It?s miles ahead of many other laptop trackpads, of course. The multitouch gestures are great. Unfortunately, the scrolling isn?t as smooth, and the gestures don?t register as easily. Again, far better than most other laptop trackpads I?ve used; it just doesn?t quite stack up to its inspiration.

Software

As with any computer you didn?t put together yourself, it comes with software installed by the manufacturer. This usually ranges from mildly useful to something approaching malware. ASUS?s software isn?t nearly as bad as malware, but there is quite a bit of it installed.

Some of it is useful, like Power4 Gear Hybrid (which lets you quickly switch between power profiles), and the ASUS Live Updater is handy. Some of it is little more than a gimmick. I thought Face Login would be pretty neat, and it is when it works. But it only seems to work in the same light as you took the initial picture, and since I did that at work, it won?t log me in at home. But since you can just type your password, it?s all moot.

Overall, nothing to complain about specifically, only that it seems like a lot of OEM software.

Wrap up

All said and done, I?m impressed. Other than some minor complaints, the computer is excellent. I?d recommend it to anyone looking for a small, portable, powerful laptop. Remember, I?ll be reviewing this laptop from the perspective of a developer in about a month.

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

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About the Author

Curtis Rutland

United States United States
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BugApostrophes PinprotectorAspDotNetDev28-Feb-12 8:59 

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