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Asus Zenbook UX31 Preview

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The Asus UX31 is virtually exactly the same as the 11.6-inch UX21 Zenbook. The only major difference is obviously going to be the larger 13.3-inch display with higher 1600×900 resolution, SD card slot, larger battery for longer hours and slightly heavier body.

Other than those differences, the Zenbook UX31 is very much the bigger brother to the UX21, much like how the 13.3-inch MacBook Air is to its smaller 11.6-inch model.

Specifications

UX31E-DH52 & UX31E-4DH53: Intel Core i5-2557 processor
UX31E-DH72: Intel Core i7-2677 processor
13.3-inch 1600×900 resolution screen
4GB RAM
128GB / 256GB SATA III SSD
0.3-megapixel webcam
Bang & and Olfusen ICEpower and ASUS SonicMaster Technology HD Audio
1x USB 2.0 / 1x USB 3.0
mini HDMI / mini VGA ports
SD card slot
50Whrs battery (7 hrs) and 10 day standby
Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit

Design

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Sorry friends. Thin is in. If you don’t like it, then you’d best be looking elsewhere. Just like the smaller UX21, the UX31 has a metallic spun finish lid and brushed metal palm wrests. It’s slightly thicker at its rear, tapering from 0.71-inches to 0.11-inches. The entire chassis is extremely sturdy – really, really rock solid. There’s no bend to the screen and it doesn’t feel too heavy even though it weighs 2.86 pounds.

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In fact, if there’s any real fault to Asus’ Zenbook design, it’s the corners. They’re feel pointy and sharp.

Performance

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Storage I/O Performance Comparison

There are three options for the UX31. Each model comes with 4GB of DDR3 RAM and can last 7 hours on a single charge and has 10 days of standby. Asus lists the UX31E4-DH52 and UX31E4-DH53 models as packing Intel Core i5-42557 processors. The former with 128GB SSD and the latter with 256GB. The top of the line UX31E4-DH72 comes with a beefier Intel Core i7-42677 processor and of course the 256GB SSD option.

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USB 3.0 port performance comparison

As with the UX21, the beauty of the Zenbook is its “true instant on” feature that resumes from temporary sleep in two seconds.

On the graphics side, inside is Intel’s integrated HD 3000 graphics. It’s enough to decode 1080p resolution video, but don’t expect it to pump out excellent frame rates for gaming.

Display

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Reading everybody's favorite tech blog!

As mentioned above, the display is a larger 13.3-inch one. It’s glossy and viewing angles are decent. Don’t expect IPS-quality screens here. You do get a really nice 1600×900 resolution, though. It’s maybe a little too high for a 13-inch notebook, but HD video playback did look brilliantly sharp!

Keyboard & Trackpad

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Keyboard is a little "mushy"

There isn’t much that can be said about the keyboard on the UX31. It’s pretty much exactly the same as the keyboard on the UX21. It’s mushy and wasn’t all that easy to type on. Whereas a missing backlight for the keyboard would have been acceptable on the smaller chassis of the UX21, it’s completely unforgivable on the larger UX31. There’s no reason why it couldn’t be included. Another missed opportunity, indeed.

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UX31's trackpad is average and laggy.

Again, the trackpad on the larger UX31 is also another miss. It’s every bit as laggy and slow as the smaller version.

Sound

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Bang & Olufsen acoustics

When people think Bang & Olfusen, most people will think quality. We’re happy to report that the sound on the UX31 impressed. We’re not sure what’s what, but based on our quick ears-on, the UX31 did sound a little stronger and louder than the smaller UX21. Asus’ Sonicmaster sound is easily one of the best sounding ultra thin and light notebooks we’ve ever had the pleasure of toying with.

Conclusion

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The Zenbook UX31 has an SD card slot. The UX21 does not.

Asus is launching the UX31 on October 12 alongside the UX21. It starts at 1,099 and goes up to $1,449. And just like the smaller Zenbook, it comes with all the bells and whistles in the box: USB to LAN and mini VGA to VGA adapters and a sleeve.

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