The Asus Zenbook UX31A goes heavy on the eye candy with its appealing aluminum casing and optional full-HD touch screen, while a solid keyboard and capable computing chops handle the productivity front with ease. The touchpad can be temperamental, but there's a work-around.
An ultra-fast Ultrabook. With its third-generation Core i5 processor and 128 GB solid-state drive, the Asus Zenbook UX31A can blaze through everyday computing chores. That's more than adequate for the average computer user but just run of the mill for an Ultrabook, and don't expect to play many high-end games with the CPU's integrated graphics. Critics wish there were more than the 4 GB of RAM in the base version to speed things up, and say the SSD is a tad small after accounting for system files and other pre-installed programs, although you can step up to 256 GB. Battery life is average at five to six hours.
Portable, but the touchpad can be touchy. The Zenbook is one of the slimmest, sleekest ultraportable laptops available. Reviewers like that Asus adds backlighting to the somewhat shallow keyboard -- a feature missing from the first-generation Zenbook -- but most find the touchpad to be far too sensitive. Laptop Magazine fixes the issue by disabling tapping and drag-and-drop functionality in the touchpad's settings, but it's nevertheless a sizable flaw in the eyes of many experts. PCMag.com tests the new touch screen version and finds the trackpad much improved.
Two USB 3.0 ports and an SD/MMC card reader join micro-HDMI, mini-VGA and a combo microphone/headphone jack. There's no Ethernet port, but Asus supplies a USB-to-Ethernet dongle. Don't lose it!
One of the prettiest laptops available. The brushed aluminum design of the first-generation Zenbook wowed experts, and the same attractive finish transfers over to the UX31A. Critics love the optional 1,920-by-1,080-pixel, full-HD display that delivers bright, clear color and wide viewing angles whether you opt for touch or non-touch. The Bang & Olufsen ICEpower speakers come through clean, but thin.
Asus builds good products, but support is poor. Asus wins a PCMag.com Readers' Choice award for overall satisfaction and reliability, but customer service is found lacking even though Asus offers several ways to contact the company. Newegg.com users have similar negative experiences with Asus support.
A decent value. If you want an Ultrabook that can handle everyday chores and look good doing it, the Zenbook UX31A can fill the role admirably, and at a decent price for an Ultrabook. A new touch screen version, the Zenbook Prime Touch UX31A (*Est. $1,000 and up) , is the stiffest competitor to our Best Reviewed Acer Aspire S7 (*Est. $1,150 and up) , but the Zenbook isn't quite as slim and light as the S7.
Review Credibility: Excellent The small SSD and limited RAM and port selection are black marks against the Zenbook UX31A, but Kazi says most people should look beyond those flaws. "Although it has its shortcomings, the Asus UX31A-DB51 (Zenbook Prime) is worthy of consideration by everyday users looking to jump into the Ultrabook foray thanks to its gorgeous design, portability and eye-popping display."
Review: Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A-DB51, Ahmer Kazi, July 17, 2012
2. Laptop Magazine
Review Credibility: Excellent Spoonauer gripes about the Zenbook UX31A's "erratic" touchpad and pokey SSD, but says the beautiful design and display coupled with the potent Core i7 performance is a force to be reckoned with. He gives the Ultrabook an Editors' Choice award.
Review: Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A Review, Mark Spoonauer, May 22, 2012
Review Credibility: Excellent Hollister says this laptop's aluminum design, IPS display and strong performance are all drool-worthy, but that only makes the horrible trackpad and incredibly sharp edges all the more disappointing. "The Zenbook Prime UX31A boldly strides forward, only to stumble again," he adds.
Review: Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A Review, Sean Hollister, July 5, 2012
Review Credibility: Excellent The Asus Zenbook UX31A straddles a hard line between budget and boutique, Ackerman writes. The slim and sleek aluminum chassis is a stunner, but he says the lack of features will bother those looking for a high-end Ultrabook, while the touchy touchpad and high price tag -- for a value option -- will bother budget buyers. Still, he says its attractive design and 1,080p HD display make it worth considering.
Review: Asus Zenbook UX31A Review, Dan Ackerman, July 27, 2012
5. Notebook Check.net
Review Credibility: Excellent NotebookCheck.net gives the Zenbook UX31A a rare 90-percent rating after an exhaustive review filled with benchmark tests and hands-on impressions. Leitner finds it a worthy successor to the UX31E, saying, "The old model's strengths were kept and the few weaknesses eliminated."
Review: Review Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A Ultrabook, J. Simon Leitner, Aug. 16, 2012
Review Credibility: Very Good This lengthy evaluation covers every aspect of the Zenbook UX31A, complete with a detailed comparison to the competition. "Given all the UX31A has to offer, chances are you'll be pleased with your purchase," Silbert writes, though she suggests giving the touchpad a test drive beforehand.
Review: Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A Ultrabook review: a high-res display, and a much-improved keyboard, Sarah Silbert, Aug. 12, 2012
7. PC World
Review Credibility: Very Good While PC World's review of the Zenbook UX31A revolves around benchmark testing, a few hands-on impressions find their way into the piece. "Overall, the new Zenbook represents a near-pinnacle of the Ultrabook design," Case says. "It performs well, is super-slim and light, and looks fabulous."
Review: Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A Review: Ultralight, Pretty, and Capable, Loyd Case, Aug. 9, 2012
8. PC World (Australia)
Review Credibility: Very Good Plastiras loves the portability, power and look of the Zenbook UX31A, and gives it 4.25 stars out of 5. Too bad about its feel, though. "Our primary gripe with this model is its touchpad, but it doesn't overshadow the strong Ivy Bridge-based configuration and the beautiful IPS-based screen," he says.
Review: Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A Ultrabook Review, Elias Plastiras, July 12, 2012