Asus has announced the Zenbook, a slim and sexy Ultrabook. We'd seen the Zenbook UX31 Ultrabook previously, but have now seen both, together, to marvel at their slick design.
These laptops are only 11mm at the thickest point, thinner than the MacBook Air, bringing some much needed love to Windows PC design, and joining the likes of Toshiba, Lenovo and Acer. Classed as an Ultrabook by Intel, Pocket-lint managed to get hold of the Zenbook in both its 11-inch UX21 and 13.3-inch UX31 incarnations and from our brief play we are suitably impressed.
Taking on a design icon like the MacBook Air is a gutsy move and for the most part it looks like Asus might have just pulled it off.
The concentric circles on top of the Zenbook's aluminium body look good from just about every angle and the way that they emanate out from the Asus logo in the centre is definitely a nice touch. We also like the minimalist approach to design, where the Ultrabook's shell has virtually nothing in terms of logo on the outside, giving it the appearance of one solid block of aluminium.
The lightest of the Zenbooks, the 11-inch UX21 weighs in at 1.1kg, whilst the UX31 manages 1.3kg. Both are extremely light and given the all metal construction, makes the laptop an even more surprising proposition the first time you pick it up.
In terms of the display, the UX21 offers you 1366 x 768 whilst the UX31 gives you an impressive 1600 x 900 pixels.
Inside the Zenbook is a choice of either an i5 or an i7 processor backed by 4GB of RAM. We tested Asus' 2-second startup from standby claims and they were most definitely justified, you can close the laptop down, reopen it and be treated almost instantaneously to the Windows logon screen.
The sleep/wake function of the Zenbook doesn't stop there, with an alleged 20-day battery if the laptop is closed but not shut down. The larger UX31 also features a slightly larger 7-hour working battery, to the UX21's 5 hours.
We have got to say that the more we read off the Zenbook's spec sheet, the closer it comes in line with the MacBook Air. Virtually everything reads the same, down to the 128GB SSD drive. Both are also equally lightweight and juicy in terms of design and appearance. So ultimately it feels to us as if you would be making a purchase decision out of operating system choice.
There is of course price to factor in, the base model UX21 costing £849 and the larger 13.3-inch UX21 priced at £999. Not hugely cheap for a Windows laptop without a decent graphics card, but then there are few like it, and this is the sort of money you'll have to pay for an Ultrabook.
What we will say impressed us was the Bang and Olufsen ICEpower technology embedded in the laptop's speakers. They sound pretty amazing for something so thin and light and could more than fill a living room, albeit with a slightly tinny emphasis on treble.
From our brief play with the Zenbook it looks like Asus has got a rather tasty gadget on its hands. There isn't much else, short of the Samsung Series 9 which can't quite boast the looks or build of the Zenbook. Expect more when Pocket-lint gets a lengthier play with the Zenbook.
Both laptops go on sale in November.
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