Asus Zenbook review: First Look

Has Asus managed to beat Apple at its own game? IT Pro checks out the launch of the latest challenger to the MacBook Air, the Asus Zenbook ultrabook.

The USB3 and microHDMI ports on the right-hand side of the Asus Zenbook.

The USB3 and microHDMI ports on the right-hand side of the Asus Zenbook.

Lightweight laptops often suffer from low screen resolutions which can make working in some applications a struggle. Not so with the Zenbook. On the 13in model, resolution comes in at a whopping 1,600x900 pixels, topping most of its competitors, while the 11in model has to settle for 1,366x768 pixels which is standard at this size.

The keyboard on the Asus Zenbook.

The garish pink lighting of Asus' launch venue wasn't ideal for trying out the backlit keyboard.

The backlit keyboard feels comfortable to type on, despite the slightly stiff feel of the keys. The return key was smaller than we'd like, but we suspect it'll be easy enough to get used to. The trackpad is responsive, but not overly sensitive.

What we really liked though, besides the stylish and lightweight build, was its sturdiness. We would have no fears of it being beaten about in aeroplane storage and it's highly unlikely anyone could snap the device, as it reassuringly lacks the unnerving bend that afflicts some other ultrabooks.

So what are our first impressions?

Verdict

The Asus ZenBook has a lot of promise and it'll be interesting to see if it lives up to its stated five hour battery life. Both the UX21 and UX31 will be available on October 21st, so it's likely to beat rival ultrabooks from Acer and Toshbia to market. Even better, at £849 inc VAT for the 11in model and £949 for the 13in version, the Zenbook either matches or undercuts Apple's pricing for the MacBook Air range. We would be lying if we said we weren’t tempted. We'll bring you a full review as soon as we can.

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