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ASUS Zenbook UX31

Last year saw the arrival of ASUS' own ultrabook, the Zenbook, which is one of 2011's most anticipated gadgets, joining the likes of the iPad 2, iPhone 4S and Nokia N9. We saw it locally unveiled first-hand in El Nido, Palawan, and were blown away by its combination of sheer beauty and elegance, something that made us even more excited to get our hands on it. The question is, aside from good looks, does the Zenbook offer anything more that would justify burning your hard-earned moolah for it? We put it to the test to see and, for the answer, read on...

Looks and Physicals

It goes without saying, the ASUS Zenbook is one of the prettiest laptops we've seen in a long while, ranking up there with the MacBook Air and Samsung's Series 9. Measuring just a mere 9mm at its thickest point, this one is as thin as notebooks can be. The sandblasted aluminum-alloy frame gives it that simple yet sophisticated look while adding a tinge of machismo to the whole package. It's also very lightweight, which is expected from an ultrabook, tipping the scales at just 2.9lbs making it a breeze to lug around. To gain more pogi points, the Zenbook also sports metallic keys and a shiny smooth trackpad.

Taking a short tour of its exterior, you'll find a 3.5mm audio jack, a USB 2.0 port and a card reader on the left side. A USB 3.0 port as well as an HDMI slot can be found sitting on the right side together with the DC jack. The speaker system is neatly tucked above the chiclet keyboard while the power switch is found on the top right side of the main laptop frame. Finally, the lid sort of projects the illusion of concentric circles, giving the device that "Zen" look, something ASUS is clearly looking for.


Being an ultrabook, the Zenbook is expected to look good on the inside, too, and it clearly doesn't disappoint. Checking what's under the hood you'll see a second-gen Intel Core i7 2677M that's paired with 4GB of DDR3 memory. In an effort to make it razor-thin and to improve overall performance, ASUS decided to go with SSD (solid-state drive) storage for the Zenbook. However, there's only 128GB of built-in capacity which might be a bit too cramped for some. Of course, provisions for wireless connectivity via WiFi and Bluetooth are also part of the mix with Windows 7 Home Premium.



Given its hardware specs, we expected the Zenbook to perform up to our standards. Obviously, you won't encounter any problems when you're only after basic computing and web browsing with this one, something that even netbooks can do seamlessly. To make the Zenbook work harder, we installed a copy of Adobe Creative Suite 5, among others. Thanks to the Intel Core i7 chip and 4GB RAM combo, things went smoothly overall even though we had 10 Firefox tabs open (with heavy multimedia streaming), an open Photoshop CS5 project and a few other programs running in the background. We also decided to test out Intel's (and ASUS') claims that ultrabooks like the Zenbook have very fast boot up times. From our experience, cold boot-up (or starting from being powered off) lasted an average of 20 seconds, which is fast. Resuming from sleep, on the other hand, normally takes about 2 seconds. 

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