For the first time ever in a PC test, I even found myself confirming the manufacturer’s claims for startup times. Starting up the Zenbook from cold took 19 seconds to reach the Windows 7 login screen. Starting up from hibernation took six seconds. Starting up from Sleep mode took two seconds. Yes, two.
Close it up to send it to sleep. Open it later, and Windows is ready to go in two seconds.
And yet the Zenbook seems perfectly happy to sit in Sleep mode for days on end while nibbling negligible battery power. Asus claims it can stay in standby for two weeks without recharging, and I believe it. I wish my tablet computers could do as much.
Another nice touch was the provision of a USB 3.0 port in addition to the conventional USB 2.0. This meant I could make use of my portable USB 3.0 hard drive to its full potential, and I definitely noticed the difference, especially when editing and playing back HD video.
Lovely brushed aluminium offset by dull grey plastic screen bezel – ah well
I should also like to congratulate Asus on building separate micro HDMI and mini VGA ports into the UX31E, and especially for bundling the necessary mini VGA adapter in the box as standard. Also bundled is a USB-to-Ethernet adapter which could be occasionally useful in the absence of Wi-Fi, but only supports up to 100BaseT, not Gigabit Ethernet.
And to round up the package, the mains adapter is only 23mm thick and quite light, so carting it around on longer journeys is no great effort.
The bad points? I don’t like the restricted viewing angle on the display, and the case doesn’t immediately snap shut when you close it in your hands - the Zenbook just gapes back open a little unless you put it on a tabletop and press the case shut for a couple of seconds. The good points? Everything else: usability, connectivity, build quality, slimline profile and power management. The UX31E is a cracking good Ultrabook and worth the money. ®
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Timeline X TM8481T
Asus Zenbook UX31E
You get a larger, higher resolution screen and a better processor than in the Mac Air at the same price.
"Asus (to me) has a bit of a Cheap n' Cheerful reputation "
Possible confusion with Acer? Asus generally have the reputation of being in the middle range in terms of quality (not Apple but not budget either).
Would be interesting to get a straw poll of Reg readers.
Typing from an eee pc 901...
running Gentoo Linux, I have to ask:
did you try any linux distro on it?
(ubuntu is usually easier for a first check for drivers, h/w support, etc., PCLinuxOS is usually equally easy to run from a live CD-- and faster than ubuntu)
It would be nice to know if Linux runs ok.
Reg h/w reviews often include a paragraph or two reporting on this issue. It may be a little more difficult, since there is no optical drive, but an external one should be OK.
Please consider adding it to your standard review procedures, I think it would be appreciated by your readers.
As for ASUS reliability, etc.:
I have been using this small thing ever since I bought it, 3 years and a couple of months ago (Sep '08) for at least 8 hours every work day, usually continuing at home and on weekends (I usually ssh from it to my desktop machine from my home network) and, apart from some trouble now and then with the left touchpad button, it works extremely smoothly.
I consider it one of my best buys, and I bought it after reading the Reg review.
It may not be a lightning-fast machine, but (with the extra space provided by an external drive) it has compiled quite a few linux kernels, firefox, even OpenOffice, to name a few things.
Note the photos in the beginning of the article on page 1 and 2; very thin, with the wedge having no receeding base. Then witness the receeding base on page 3.
If one of your assessment critera is thinness, I'd ignore these photo's and view the model in the flesh first.
And *NOT* Mac OSX
Which is probably the biggest plus!