Asus Zenbook UX31E
The finest Ultrabook on the market?
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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