Let me get thing straight. I never use laptops. I have a desktop at home, a desktop at work, cloud storage, as well as a Smartphone for every in between. So it just never made sense to me spend an extra 30 per cent (at least) on getting one. More so because I often see most people actually treating their laptops much like desktop; they may move them around a bit at home, but most of the time, they do very little to justify the extra cash they have spent on getting a portable computer. And then there’s the question of upgradeability as well. I have always been able to keep my desktops alive for ages by frequently upgrading the motherboard, processor, graphics card and RAM; whatever components seemed to lag behind current trends. Of course with laptops, this is not possible. So I do believe that there should be very specific reasons to buy a laptop.
After all that, if your lifestyle does indeed require a portable computer, then the ASUS Zenbook is pretty much good as they come. It’s as convenient to carry around as tablet (especially the 11.6 inch UX21 model), light and extremely sleek, with the advantage of being a fully functional computer. That’s a big plus, as tablets still have issues because of their OS, which simply don’t allow some functions which we take for granted in regular computers.
The Zenbook complies with Intel’s Ultrabook criteria, meaning that it is:
- Less than 21 mm thick (yeah, a lot thinner than that!)
- Ultra-fast start-up (resumes in two seconds)
- Extended battery life (five to seven hours with normal usage)
- Additional security features
I don’t know if it’s the i5 processor or the solid state drive on this thing =, but it runs like a dream. Applications open, run and close effortlessly, even when there are quite a few already running. The Zenbook comes pre-installed with power-management software from ASUS called Power4Gear, and I found that using it in any other mode than maximum Performance just wasn’t good for me. But if one is at a place where charging the battery saving mode would definitely come in handy, as it drastically extends battery life, but at a serious cost of performance in all aspects. The display dims, the computer becomes sluggish, even the Wi-Fi doesn’t work so well, and if you turn around for what seems like just a moment, you’ll find the laptop has gone to sleep. On the other hand, it is possible to tweak the setting on power 4Gear according to one’s requirements, so Battery Saving mode doesn’t necessarily have to be quite this irritating.
At maximum Performance, even the latest games play quite well. I tried out Modern Warfare 3, and although I couldn’t crank up the setting to anywhere near where I keep them on my desktop, I was able to enjoy a relatively smooth experience with everything turned down all the way. And let’s not forget that games like Modern Welfare 3 with all its setting at high can be taxing on even the most advance gaming machines. This is not a gaming laptop and doesn’t feature a dedicated graphics card, but the i5 is able to deal with the graphics reasonably well on its own. So if you’re really bored and want to kill a few hours playing games, that is possible but don’t expect to be floored by the eye candy. Sound on the Zenbook is surprisingly good, and it’s no wonder because the speakers are by no other than bang & Olufson, the Danish company famous for making high-end audio- visual equipment which sells for hundreds and thousands of rupees. As a result, this Ultrabook is louder and clearer than many of Entertainment or Gaming laptops that are available in the market. Speaking of entertainment, plugging into an LCD/LED display require an optional microHDMI cable, but these days every time you get a new device you always end up having to buy some new expensive cable or another. Once connected, the Zenbook played 720p MKV movie files beautifully, but struggled with larger 1080p files. I tried playing 1080p files on my friend’s new laptop Lenovo Ideapad laptop, and playback on this machine was no better.
Having only two USB slots can be quite restricting, even if you need to connect your Zenbook to a network via Ethernet adaptor. So if you have to play around with a lot of external devices, than you will probably need to get a powered USB hub for the USB 3.0 slot. Yes, yet another additional accessory to purchase! But then, MacBook Air has only two USB 2 slots (Apple hasn’t adopted USB 3 technology, they are sticking with Thunderbolt). Basically, that’s the price one has to play for having a computer which is only a few millimeters thick! Not to mention the other common piece of hardware which is missing from all Ultraboks, a DVD drive? Honestly, I used DVD drives so very rarely that I hardly noticed, but if it is absolutely essential then one can always pick up an external one and the accessories just keep piling up, don’t they?
The display is decent, but definitely not as good as the Macbook Air. No matter how much I tried to tweak the brightness, contrast and other setting, I just couldn’t get it to look as good as the Airs. And considering it cost almost as much as the Air, which is a bit of an issue. But most Ultrabooks are around the same price range. Weather its Sony, Samsung, Apple, etc, these would come under the category of Exclusive laptops; Certainly not suited for the average user. The Air, of course, also has the added advantage of its secure and solid-as-rock OS on top of having the best display. And although the Acer Aspire S3 Ultrabook is cheaper, its severely underpowered.
As far looks are concerned, it’s a beautiful laptop. At first glance it resembles the Macbook Air a lot, but that was the first Ultrabook, right? And in any case, there’s no denying that Apple does set the standard where design is concerned. This is just a fact that the industry has learn to live with. The Zenbooks top is available in three shades: Rose Gold, Hot Pink and silver.