Asus UX31 gets reviewed and praised – really a top notch ultrabook
The Asus UX31 ultrabook is probably one of the most exciting pieces of computer equipment released lately, sporting a high-resolution display and featuring a nice design, a strong body, as well as some great hardware under its hood.
And even though the UX31 was made available for sale just a while back, the first product releases have already appeared. These are very encouraging, to say the least, with most of the reviewers calling Asus’ s 13-incher an almost perfect laptop.
Being targeted to compete against Apple’s great MacBook Air, but also against other slim and ultraportable laptops expected pretty soon, the UX31 has many strong points, but also a couple of weak points.
In the following lines we will take a quick look at both its advantages and disadvantages, trying to determine just how far from perfection this ultrabook really is.
Design and build
While we were expecting a slim, thin and portable laptop, the UX31 has surpassed all expectations in terms of design, being beautiful, fashionable, but also reliable-looking. The brushed-aluminum chassis, along with the circular spun-metal pattern on the lid are just two of the elements that make the 13-incher original and elegant.
Weighing in at just three pounds and measuring a mere 0.7 inches thin, the UX31 redefines portability, but somehow manages to be sturdy and robust as well. It’s true, it looks a bit like the MacBook Air here and there, but overall the design is chic, special and pretty innovative.
Keyboard and touchpad
Like its smaller sibling, the UX21, the most important weak point of the 31 is the keyboard and touchpad. The keyboard, on one hand, while being comfortable, accurate and pretty well-spaced, can’t compare with the one featured on the MacBook Air when it comes to one feature. The backlighting, present on Apple’s best seller, but missing from Asus’ s ultrabook.
The touchpad is itself decent, but not impressive, being large, good-looking and comfortable, but not that responsive from time to time or accurate.
Screen, hardware and performance
Probably the biggest ace up the UX31’s sleeve is the 13.3-inch display. This comes with a great resolution of 1600 x 900 pixels, which is much higher than the standard 1366 x 768 and even higher than the MacBook Air’ s 1440 x 900.
This will translate into incredibly crisp colors, as well as high brightness, contrast and viewing angles. You can run HD video content without any problem and the overall image quality is out of this world.
In terms of hardware and performance, things are again great, with the UX31 being slightly better than even the MacBook Air. The second generation Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost 2.0 Technology, along with the 4 GB of RAM and the Intel UMA graphics card make for a very snappy system, capable of running a few demanding video games, as well as surfing the web at great speeds and playing any kind of multimedia content.
As for the storage space, you get a 128 GB solid state drive, which will provide you with enough internal memory to go around, but which will also up your booting speeds and boost your battery.
And talking about booting speeds, the innovative Asus Super Hybrid Engine II technology with Instant On will ensure a two-second resume of the notebook from sleep mode, which is pretty cool.
Battery life, connectivity, ports and others
According to the battery test performed by the guys at laptopmag.com, the UX31 managed to go for just under six hours on a single charge. That is pretty close to the autonomy found by Engagdet during their standard battery test and is well above average right now. We should also mention another cool Asus feature, which automatically backs up your data when the battery reaches a five percent charge.
In terms of connectivity and ports, you get pretty much all you could hope from an ultraportable and slim computer like this, including two USB ports (a 2.0 and a 3.0), micro HDMI, a mini VGA port for external monitor, an SD card reader, as well as Wireless and Bluetooth 4.0 compatibility.
Other features include an 0.3 megapixel webcam, but also a couple of great stereo speakers, which impress with great volume and above average bass.
Pricing and availability
The UX31 has gone up for sale only a few weeks back and is currently available for 1,099 dollars, with a Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM and 128 GB SSD storage. This is a bit more than what Intel planned when it first started to talk about ultrabooks, but is pretty decent nevertheless and is less than what the MacBook Air goes for at the moment.
However, more versions should be available in these next weeks and I’d expect the prices do drop as we get closer and closer to the Winter Sales period, especially during the Cyber Monday deals period.
While it has its tiny flaws, especially when talking about the keyboard and touchpad, the Asus UX31 ultrabook has every chance of making a great impression in the computer market.
Being slim, lightweight and portable, but also sturdy and solid and featuring great technical specs, as well as a display like no other, Asus’s 13-incher is arguably better than Apple’s Macbook Air and it could well be the best ultrabook for the following months.
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