When Asus unveiled its Zen ultraportable, it received a standing ovation. It had nothing to do with the Moet and Chandon that was circulating at the launch event, or the fact that The Gadget Show's Suzi Perry was showing it off.
OK, so it was kind of half that, but mostly it was the skinny build of Asus' masterpiece that prompted the clapping. We'll tell you right now, the Asus Zenbook is the most impressive laptop we've seen in months.
The Asus Zenbook is just 3mm thick at the front and 9mm thick at the rear. You could sever a head with this thing if you were so inclined. That's some advertising we really want to see: "Asus Zenbook - can slice through zombies if you're trapped in some horrific post-apocalyptic version of Earth."
Asus zenbook
Despite the slim build, Asus has found room on the Zenbook for a USB 3.0 port, as well as mini HDMI and mini DisplayPort connections, so you can hook up to your TV.
Asus zenbook
Best of all, once you wipe off the zombie blood and brain matter, you can lift the lid and start the Asus Zenbook in just two seconds. This laptop will sit in hibernation for two weeks and still start up in less time than it takes to eat a Chicken McNugget, unlike Acer's upcoming ultrabook, which loses the quick-start feature after half an hour of hibernation.
And if you're working on that novel, you don't have to worry about your battery dying mid-flow. When the Asus Zenbook hits 5% it'll automatically save your data session. It's all about minimal frustration.
Asus zenbook
Not that the battery sucks, of course. You'll get five hours of life if you're browsing the web and over three hours if you're playing games.
We haven't tried out any games yet, but while the two different versions of the Asus Zenbook come fitted with Intel Sandy Bridge technology, they also depend on the processor for graphics. You'll find no dedicated GPUs here, and it's not surprising, given the dinky frames.
Asus zenbook
The Asus Zenbook UX21E comes with an 11.6-inch screen, while the Zenbook UX31E sports a sexy 13.3-inch display. Both screens are bright, colourful and sharp, and surprisingly solid, considering the thin build.
We remember the Samsung 9003X's screen, which folded like a piece of paper under the slightest pressure. There's nothing of the sort here. You could punch the lid of either Zenbook and it would soak up the punishment and gladly ask for more.
Aside from screen size, the only other major difference between the two Asus Zenbooks is the processor. While the Zenbook UX21E packs in an Intel Core i5 2467M, the bigger UX31E features an Intel Core i7 2677M. Either way, you won't need to upgrade your portable laptop any time soon.
Asus zenbook
Laptop speakers aren't usually even worth mentioning, but the Asus Zenbook's are surprising, given the size. The collaboration with Bang & Olufsen has obviously paid off, as the final part of our demo featured this laptop playing some beautiful classical music over the stunned silence of the room.
Asus zenbook
We were impressed by how crisp the audio sounded, even on top volume. Of course, once the presentation was over and we tried playing some music over the general clamour in the bar, we had to hold the Asus Zenbook to our ears to actually hear anything.
Still, if you want to enjoy a bit of Lady Gaga while you're tapping away in your office, the Asus Zenbook will do the job.
Asus zenbook
Speaking of tapping away, we've never been huge fans of the keyboards on ultra-portable laptops. The Asus Zenbook, like its predecessors, has a keyboard with incredibly shallow travel. It feels at times like you're bashing your fingers off a metal board.
Asus zenbook
Still, the isolation-style design means the keyboard is well sized and spaced. Our only real complaints are the tiny arrow keys and the single-row Return key. After just a few minutes we found ourselves touch-typing at our usual rate, with very few mistakes.
We were also concerned with our first glimpse of the touchpad, because the mouse buttons are integrated. This brings back horrifying memories of the earlier HP laptops, and our rage fits that almost reduced them to powder.
Asus zenbook
Thankfully the Asus Zenbook's touchpad is responsive and spacious, and pushing the buttons doesn't result in the cursor jerking around the screen. We found it difficult to double-click, but you can always double-tap the pad if you need to.
Finally, there's the chassis itself. It's thin and ridiculously solid, but it also looks great thanks to the metallic finish. That sleek design was marred only by our greasy fingertips after a few too many bar snacks. Tip: don't handle this laptop after munching on a burger. The fingerprints are a real arse to remove.
The Asus Zenbook UX21E and UX31E are released on 21 October. The Asus Zenbook UX21E costs £849 while the Asus Zenbook UX31E is priced at £999.
From: techrader