The Asus Zenbook UX31E is arguably the best-looking of Intel's ultrabooks, although this is largely because it borrows so heavily from the design ethic of the Apple MacBook Air

While the design is undoubtedy close to the MacBook Air, there are a few tell-tale signs that this is definitely not an Apple product. For a start, it has a much darker and glossier gleam to its metal finish.

When you open the Zenbook, the keyboard is recognisably different. It is a good keyboard, finding room for a dedicated Delete key, with nice large Return, Shift, Backspace and Spacebar keys.

We didn't have the same typing issues as with the smaller Asus Zenbook UX21E, which we found somewhat uncomfortable to use. The keys are well spaced, too, and the touchpad is a generous size.

Overall, the impression you get using the Asus Zenbook UX31E is of a generously-proportioned laptop - you could quite forget just how thin and light it is.

The technical specification is good, too. There's 4GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, as well as a display that stretches to 1600 x 900 pixel resolution, even higher than that of the 13in MacBook Air.

But the display just isn't a match for the MacBook Air . While the definition is sharp and viewing angles good, the untreated gloss finish makes it all too reflective. The colour depth isn't as good either. 

When it comes to performance, it’s a mixed bag. Although a WorldBench 6 score of 119 points is better than most lightweight laptops, the Asus Zenbook UX31E is 11 points behind the 13in MacBook Air which has the same Core i7 processor. 

There are some good inclusions, though - a USB 3.0 port, as well as a mini-HDMI output are both welcome.

Otherwise, the connectivity options don't quite match those of the MacBook Air. Bluetooth 4.0 compatibility is included but the Wi-Fi is only 2.4GHz single-band against the Air’s support for dual-band with 5GHz. 

Battery life was excellent at 435 mins – over seven hours – and the longest lasting of recent ultraportables.

Note that our review sample was supplied by Intel's PR department and had a 256GB SSD inside. This model is not sold in the UK. Instead, the maximum storage capacity offered through Asus UK is 128GB.

NEXT PAGE: Original PCWorld review >>


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