IT Pro is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Asus ZenBook UX31 review

The ultra-portable laptop market has been all but sewn up by the MacBook Air, but Intel's new Ultrabook specification could turn things around for Windows users. Tom Morgan takes a closer look at the first Ultrabook, Asus' Zenbook.

Price
£960

Built from tough yet lightweight aluminium and only three millimetres thick at its thinnest point, the 13in Zenbook UX31 is a stunning looking laptop. Its sharp edges, straight lines and brushed metal lid are a stark contrast to Apple's curvier MacBook Air, which should help it stand out from the crowd of Air imitators inbound from other manufacturers. Having said that, the resemblance between the two is striking especially the tapered profile and rigid, sturdy metal build. Both machines weigh an incredibly light 1.3kg, but the Zenbook is a bit smaller by a few millimetres although it's not enough to notice. You won't find taking the Zenbook with you on the move a struggle.

The Asus Zenbook's tapered design is remarkably thin.

The Asus Zenbook UX31 looks great and feels incredibly rigid and robust.

The UX31 stands out from the competition thanks to its high resolution screen. Where other manufacturers are using 1,366x768 resolution panels, the 13in Zenbook has a much bigger 1,600x900 display. This makes a huge difference when working on multiple documents or large spreadsheets, as you can fit much more onscreen without having to scroll. Image quality is excellent, with accurate colours and ample contrast. The screen is almost painfully bright, but viewing angles were only average and we would have preferred a matt display to combat light reflections, but there's enough screen tilt that screen glare shouldn't be a major problem.

The Zenbook keyboard isn't backlit and, more importantly, isn't quite as comfortable and responsive as others we've seen.

The Zenbook isn't backlit and, more importantly, isn't quite as comfortable and responsive as others we've seen.

Despite the razor thin chassis edge that can rub on your wrists, the keyboard is comfortable to type on. The full-width keys are well spaced apart and use a standard layout, which makes it easy to find the lesser-used punctuation keys. Given the incredibly thin chassis, there's not a lot of travel in each key, so the keys felt a touch stiffer and less responsive than the MacBook Air's keyboard but it is possible to get used to it. You don't get a backlit keyboard like you do with the MacBook Air, but our real concern is that the power button is dangerously close to the backspace key. A white LED in its corner helps it stand out from the other keys to avoid accidental presses, but it feels identical to the other keys and could still result in some shutdown-related mishaps.

Featured Resources

Accelerating AI modernisation with data infrastructure

Generate business value from your AI initiatives

Free Download

Recommendations for managing AI risks

Integrate your external AI tool findings into your broader security programs

Free Download

Modernise your legacy databases in the cloud

An introduction to cloud databases

Free Download

Powering through to innovation

IT agility drive digital transformation

Free Download

Recommended

Calling all US-based SMBs
Hardware

Calling all US-based SMBs

28 Jun 2022
Intel pauses Ohio chip site development, citing delays in US CHIPS act subsidies
Hardware

Intel pauses Ohio chip site development, citing delays in US CHIPS act subsidies

24 Jun 2022
Best business laptops 2022: Acer, Asus, Dell and more
Laptops

Best business laptops 2022: Acer, Asus, Dell and more

13 Jun 2022
Intel becomes latest tech company to freeze recruitment
Careers & training

Intel becomes latest tech company to freeze recruitment

9 Jun 2022

Most Popular

The UK's best cities for tech workers in 2022
Business strategy

The UK's best cities for tech workers in 2022

24 Jun 2022
LockBit 2.0 ransomware disguised as PDFs distributed in email attacks
Security

LockBit 2.0 ransomware disguised as PDFs distributed in email attacks

27 Jun 2022
Salaries for the least popular programming languages surge as much as 44%
Development

Salaries for the least popular programming languages surge as much as 44%

23 Jun 2022