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Laptops Reviews
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Asus Zenbook UX31E review

£1000 inc VAT

Manufacturer: Asus

Our Rating: We rate this 4 out of 5

The Asus Zenbook UX31E is the Asus reply to Intel's plea to Windows laptop makers to copy the Apple MacBook Air – REVISED 01 MARCH 2012

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 >>

Asus Zenbook UX31E Expert Verdict »

Asus Zenbook UX31E-RY012V reviews verified by Reevoo

Asus Zenbook UX31E-RY012VScores 8.9 out of 10 based on 61 reviews
1.8GHz Intel Core i7-2677M
13.3in glossy LED-backlit 1600 x 900
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
4GB DDR3-1333MHz
Integrated Intel HD 3000
stereo speakers, headphone jack, mic
1 x USB 3.0
1 x USB 2.0
Bluetooth 4.0
SD card reader
50Wh lithium polymer non-removable
326 x 223 x 4-18.1mm
  • Build Quality: We give this item 8 of 10 for build quality
  • Features: We give this item 8 of 10 for features
  • Value for Money: We give this item 7 of 10 for value for money
  • Overall: We give this item 8 of 10 overall

The Asus Zenbook UX31E is impressive. It's an excellent performer, it's attractive and light, and it plays back multimedia well. Unfortunately, its screen is off-colour and its touchpad needs more work.

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