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647 of 669 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2011
I received the Zenbook a week ago and have the following to report, addressing most buyers concerns (including myself) when wanting to purchase the Zenbook:

I do hope you find it useful - please vote this up if you did, to inform prospective buyers. Thanks!

Physical outlook:
The Zenbook largely resembles the MacBook Air in terms of svelteness. Even the tapering of the chasis 17mm-3mm is the same as the MacBook. This is a good thing because the Zenbook looks better than the MacBook air. The edges look more clean cut, more industrial looking. Definitely something for the corporate board.

Keyboard:
This is a hit and miss issue with many users. You either love it or hate it. I found the keyboard better than the MacBook because I could actually type faster on this laptop.
1. The keys have much lesser travel than the MacBook Air.
2. They are well spaced.

Some people were complaining about how unresponsive the keys would be. I had found that to be true when I first used the laptop, but adapted to the typing style, applying a little more pressure with each keystroke. Now I can type faster than I can with my iMac wireless keyboard!
It's just a matter of getting used to.

Poor Trackpad:
This is perhaps one of my most pertinent gripes about the Zenbook. The trackpad, like the keyboard is a matter of getting used to. Asus did a poor job in this aspect because they did not standardize the parts used in their Zenbook series. Some Zenbooks came with the Elan touchpad. Others came with the more inferior Sentallics branded touchpad. Both touchpads had different drivers - and performance. The sentallics version performed poorly even with updated drivers and felt like using a year 20000-esque trackpad. There was very poor control over the trackpad, it seemed to have a mind of it's own - especially when using multitouch gestures.

I managed to get the Elan trackpad, and my experience was not better off. When using two fingers on the trackpad in Opera (one finger on left click, the other to move the cursor around) the Zenbook did not recognize this even though my other finger was on the left click BUTTON. It kept recognizing this as a pinch and zoom, resizing the page I was browsing. This is irritating as I have to adapt to using the laptop with one finger. MacBook Airs don't even have a specific left click button and they don't accidentally recgnize my gestures as pinch to zoom. In this aspect, Asus has tragically failed in one of the key aspects of interaction with a laptop - the touchpad.

Slow SSD:
As with the trackpad, the Zenbook shipped with two 128GB SSD variants, the slower Sandisk u100 and the faster, more superior ADATA SANDFORCE. I received the Sandisk variant and I'm seriously having buyers remorse on the purchase. Major reviewers (engadget, anandtech, pocketlint, ars technica) somehow received the superior ADATA variants as their test units, and based their judgement on the drive they received. Most buyers purchase because of the positive reviews made by them. Their reviews would have been much different with the SANDISK SSD.

What Asus did was misleading, and very inappropriate. Advertising the faster ADATA SSD's then shipping other units with the lousier Sandisk units.

The benchmarks I done using Crystal Disk Mark showed the vast difference in speeds. Below:

SANDISK
Size Read Write
4K 16.92 12.49
512K 253.2 21.81******
1GB 460.2 247.1

ADATA (Data from notebookcheck.net)
SIZE Read Write
4K 26.38 51.15
512K 374.7 131.7*****
1GB 429.6 132.8

As you can see, the speeds on the ADATA is easily 6 times faster on write speeds. The 1GB is similar but for day to day usage like surfing and microsoft office, the most commonly used size is below 512K. Thus, the ADATA offers a tremendous speed increase compared to the Sandisk.
As a consumer paying the same amount for a laptop, it is only fair that we receive what we expect. There should be no deviation from what Asus advertises and what we receive.

In this instance, getting a perfect Zenbook combination was like striking the lottery given the amount of permutations given. We only have a 1 in 4 chance of getting both the Elan touchpad and ADATA SSD.

Wireless Problem:
Many users were facing problems with their Wireless card receiving slow speeds. An updated driver would solve the problem. I did not experience the Wifi problem and the Zenbook worked fine out of the box.
I found that the weak wireless problem may be attributed to the Power Options settings. Goto power options -> change plan settings -> changed advanced power settings -> Wireless Adapter settings -> Power saving mode -> MAXIMUM PERFORMANCE.

Audio Hissing Sound:
Some users complained (in the UX21 reviews) that they heard very loud hissing sounds coming out of their earphone port with earphones. I did not hear it on my unit. Perhaps he received a lemon?

In conculsion:
Truth be said, I am not an Apple fan and was very happy to see such a good looking ultraportable that trumps the MacBook Air's air of sexiness. The zenbook is downright awesome to look at. The full aluminium chasis offers the kind of durability no other laptop can offer in it's class.

But with further comparison, the Apple ships with same compenents across the board. We appreciate this reliablility because we KNOW what components we are getting.

We aren't playing the lottery Asus, and this Zenbook certainly isn't my idea of a $1000 lottery ticket.
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87 of 91 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 2011
Verified Purchase
This is a great notebook with awsome battery life (5+ hours of standward def video with 20% battery left), good keyboard (not as good as Lenovo's), good trackpad (after driver upgrade), good scren and great look. I do wish that I can find a place to purchase another power supply as I usually have one charger at work and one at home. Although the power supply is thin and small, I would love to have 2, but I cannot find any retailer's online that sells the power supply for this notebook. I also wish there is some soft of port aggregator for this notebook. On the right side of the notebook, you have power, USB3, mini VGA and mini HDMI port. ASUS could easily make an psudo dock that plugs into all 4 port then you have in instant notebook dock. Coming from a T series Lenovo, I miss the docking feature and not having to plug 3 things in everything I goto my desk (power, USB 3, and mini HDMI).

Warning: DO NOT UNINSTALL Instant on, PowerWiz and Power4Gear. When I did so, my computer begin to blue screen. I believe it has to do with how the hardware operates in sleep mode and how Windows expect it to behave in sleep mode. Those 3 software bridge the gap between what Windows expect and how the hardware behaves. Without it, don't expect a stable notebook.

HINT: I've had some wireless stability problem earlier, but that was solved by disabling MIMO power save in the advance setting of the wireless adaptor by going to Network and Sharing Center, Change Adaptor setting, right click the adaptor, properties, configure, Advanced, and set Dynamic MIMO power save to disabled.
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152 of 169 people found the following review helpful
on November 20, 2011
This is a brief video review of the Asus Zenbook UX31. I recommend this notebook for anyone looking for an ultra-portable and fast laptop that has a great design.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 2011
Verified Purchase
To start with, I consider myself to be very tech-saavy and tech-educated. I don't discriminate on brand but rather on form and function. I've owned iPhones and Androids...I've used macbooks, laptops, and desktops and have built them (desktops) from scratch, etc. etc. When it comes to a machine like this, it is a whole different ballpark. At first, I was hesitant at purchasing the Zenbook. I wasn't sure if I wanted to purchase this or the Lenovo U300s or the Macbook Air (13 inch). I read reviews about how people hated the keyboard and the touchpad, how there were issues with the touchpad along with the wireless card and this scared me. Of course, the saying goes, an unhappy customer is louder than a happy one. Besides these issues, which I will address later, the specs on paper looked extremely good. The Zenbook is significantly faster than the Lenovo U300s and is neck in neck with the Macbook Air with a smaller price tag. The Macbook Air has better battery life but I think in this case, it is an operating system thing because if you bootcamp Windows 7 on a 13 inch Macbook Air, the battery life goes down to 4-5 hours compared to the Zenbook's 6-7 hr battery life (I haven't reversed it and installed Mac OS on the Zenbook so I can't give you details on that). So on paper, the Zenbook seemed to be the winner. As for looks, I personally prefer the Zenbook. I think it is one of the most beautiful laptop computers ever made. The Macbook Air looks bland next to the Zenbook and several of my coworkers fell in love with the design when they saw it and not knowing that it was mine, started talking about it behind my back. Looks and specs aside, user interactions are one of the most critical aspects of a good computer. I am currently typing this review on my Zenbook. Coming from Lenovo keyboards, my personal favorite the Logitech DiNovo Edge, and MacBook keyboards, there is a bit of stretch (maybe a couple days max) of getting comfortable with the keyboard but I wouldn't say it was a bad experience, it was a nice change and typing on the keyboard feels nice now. The trackpad, I have had no issues with. After reading the reviews stating that the trackpad was horrible and that it was okay after driver updates, I immediately updated drivers and the bios when I got the Zenbook and have no problems whatsoever.

Right now, if this were to be my review, this product would have 5 out of 5 stars however...this is actually my 2nd Zenbook. The first one I returned after noticing wifi problems. I uninstalled and updated drivers, I checked forums, I did tweaks but the wifi thing was killer for me. It would go from one bar to five even though I hadn't moved. Speed fluctuations all the time, I just couldn't take it and so I returned it and gave the Zenbook another chance. The one I have now has been smooth since day 1. No issues at all but because of inconsistency in production because I believe the wifi issue is a hardware issue and not a software issue that's a full star down.

Now for the more definite pros and cons list + comparisons.

PROS
---------------------
1. Number 1 on the list has got the be the screen and the screen resolution. Macbook Air has a screen resolution of 1440 x 900. Lenovo U300s, 1366 x 768. The Zenbook trumps them all with a screen resolution of 1600 x 900. In my opinion, 1366 x 768 does not look good. Everything is huge and it's difficult to do work in. The Macbook Air has a slightly better resolution but the Zenbook really hits the spot. I can have two documents side by side or a browser on one side and my thesis work on the other...having a larger screen resolution, without breaking the bank, is crucial. Zenbook has got that hands down. As for the quality, it is a glossy screen and doesn't have as much pop in colors as the Macbook Air but it is still beautiful.

2. Speed. The solid state drive makes life so much faster! I've used solid state drives for years now and they make bootups and regular activity faster and snappier. The Zenbook boots up in about 25 seconds (that's loading up Windows and every random program that is in startup like the iTunes stuff, antivirus, etc.) It also wakes up from sleep in about 2 seconds, which makes resuming activity smooth and seamless. Also, gotta give credit to the Intel 2nd gen Sandy Bridge processor powering this thing. Works like a charm.

On a more technical note, the Zenbook comes equipped with a 128 GB ADATA Sandforce solid state drive. Read/write speeds are 550/500 MB/s. This is way faster than the solid state drive in the Macbook Air, which is a Toshiba SSD with read/write speeds of 200/190 MB/s (Mid 2011 Macbook Air).

3. Quiet <=== says it all. Very little heat produced too.

4. Lightweight (but you already knew that) but not plasticky (it's made out of aluminum I think). Has a good heft to it that makes it feel good to hold.

5. Speakers are surprisingly good for a laptop. Asus spent some extra time on the speakers and they sure show.

6. Ports. USB 3.0 and 2.0, micro-HDMI (micro-HDMI cord to HDMI or the adapter costs like $3 max), micro-VGA (dongle provided), SD card slot, USB-to-Ethernet dongle, beats the Macbook Air out of the skies if you ask me.

7. Battery life. Can work pretty much all day and not have to worry about plugging in. 6-7 hours doing document work and surfing the web with Wifi and Bluetooth on. Maybe around 4-5 watching movies and videos.

8. Form. Sleek, beautiful, sometimes I just want to look at it and not even use it. Can't say the same for the Lenovo or the Macbook Air. The Air just looks like a smaller Macbook Pro :/

CONS
--------------
1. First Zenbook that I got had wifi issues. Honestly, I think it was either karma or I was unlucky. Amazon has a very easy returns process so just don't throw away the packaging. Regardless though, having a machine that doesn't work well is quite a hassle, which is why a star was deducted.

2. Keyboard learning curve. Isn't really a con for me but the keyboard has a different feel.

3. Watch out for those corners. They're pretty intense but what can you do? The device tapers down to nothing, its going to be rough regardless.

CONCLUSION
If you are in the market for an ultrabook, you can't go wrong with the Zenbook. You may go unlucky but it is unlikely. The Asus Zenbook is a wonderful laptop.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2011
Verified Purchase
I've been using the Asus UX31 for almost 2 weeks now and I have to say that I love it.

My reasons for purchasing this specific model were for 2 reasons.
First, screen resolution. I have perfect eyesight and for me "screen real estate" is based on how many pixels there are, not how big the screen is physically. 1600x900 at 13" is the best you can do unless you want to shell out $3000 for a top of the line Sony VIAO.
My second reason for purchasing this laptop was build quality. I am preparing for a 2 year service in the Peace Corps. I wanted something small, powerful, and most importantly, physically strong. This baby has a solid aluminum frame with no "give". And with no moving parts (thanks to the SSD) I won't mind if it takes a few knocks whether it's powered on or off.

Keyboard: It's fine for work on the go, but this external: ([...]) fits nicely into my bag for setting up a mobile workspace.

Trackpad: Pain in the ass with settings as shipped. If you've read many other reviews you'll understand. I found that the best solution is to disable the ASUS SmartSense settings entirely and use this program instead: TouchFreeze - [...] Using TouchFreeze has been a wonderful solution for me but I'd still like to see ASUS fix the issue with a driver update so that I don't have to use a separate application.

Storage: If you think that 128GB is not enough, than you need to learn to use an external hard drive effectively. Your media (music, videos, full res photos) don't need to be stored locally. Even large programs and games can be installed to an external drive. A small portable USB powered 1TB external does the trick for me.

Graphics: The other day I plugged my UX31 up to a giant 1920x1080 display and ran an extended desktop with no problems. I don't play very many modern games, but I have been able to run Civilization IV with full specs even using the battery saver power configuration.

All the other reviews should cover everything else you need to know, so read them! I'm a software developer and a hardware snob as well. This machine is meeting all my current demands except one: the 4GB RAM cannot be upgraded. To be in the ultrabook category, you must compromise there.

One last thing you should know: I was initially overly zealous about uninstalling the bloatware that ASUS included. There are a few programs that need to be kept running to keep things stable. Those are Power4Gear Hybrid, PowerWiz, InstantOn, PWR Option, ATK Package, WinFlash, Wireless Console 3, and ASUS Splendid Vid ET. Those are the ones I decided to keep, uninstall them at your own risk.
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The manufacturer commented on the review below
73 of 86 people found the following review helpful
on October 29, 2011
Verified Purchase
You can add my name to the list of people who was disappointed with this laptop that I ended up returning it. But before I get into what bothered me, I'll start off with what was great:
1) Design- it is beautiful laptop. Compare it the Macbook Air if you want, but I think it is nicer. The aluminum brush, the tapered edges all make for a nice machine.
2) Weight- very light, although with the aluminum it was still a bit heavier than it could have been. I guess it gives a solid feel to it.
3) Battery life- I barely even need to charge this thing. It lasts for 6+ hours, and on standby, i never needed to plug it in.
4) Screen- 1600x900 is certainly the best in its class, and the screen is very bright. I'll get into the problems later on.
5) Adapters- I was pleasantly surprised to learn that asus provided a VGA and ethernet adapter. Just another thing to brag about when you talk to your apple buddies who pay an extra $60 for adapters.
6) Case- also, something Asus didn't have to include, but did anyways. Very nice, professional case, with matching bag for adapters
7) Power adapter- Compact!

The bad:
1) The trackpad- ok, maybe I haven't used enough touchpads in a while, but I never realized that touchpads could be so problematic. I thought they were one of those components that "just worked". I don't need any of the jitteryness or the overshooting with the touchpad. I should just be able to swipe my finger and go where I need to go. This was not the case with the UX31. Yes, I tried to optimize it with software, new drivers and bios, but still it was not perfect.

2) The keyboard- again, I did not think you can screw up a keyboard! But lo and behold, I was missing keys left and right. I guess I wasn't pressing down hard enough, or not pressing in the center. Whatever the case may be, I shouldn't have to think so hard about typing- I should be able to just sit down and type.

3) Wireless/Internet- With the max performance power setting, my signal was still inferior to my four year old laptop. A worse signal, lower speeds, and very fluctuant. And it doesn't have a 5 GHz channel. And it didn't even seem to connect at 300. And it doesn't have any modern features (like WiDi). Not very promising for a computer I plan on keeping for multiple years. While I'm talking about internet, just want to say that while its great they included the ethernet adapter, it won't be able to do gigabit internet. Kind of a step down, when my 4 year old laptop can...

4) Screen- While the screen resolution was impressive, I'm not a big fan of reflections. Also, the vertical viewing angle was disappointing, although I have read that these viewing angles are pretty good compared to other machines in its class. Maybe my expectations were too high. Perhaps its unreasonable, but I don't think its acceptable to actually have to tilt your screen slightly so you can read the white clock in the windows 7 taskbar.

5) Power connector- it was so thin that jiggling it a bit lost the power connection. Not something I expect to last in the long term.

So those were the things that forced me to return the laptop. I really wanted to like it. But when the really basic, everyday interactions (ie, the touchpad, keyboard, internet, and screen) are all subpar, its just not worth it.
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The manufacturer commented on this review (What's this?)
Please check your Device Manager and verify if the touchpad is Sentelic or Elantech. If it is Elantech, it will show that it is Elantech. If it is Sentelic, it won't show the name but rather will just say General or something along those lines. The latest drivers fix the issues a lot of you are having and you can download the latest drivers from http://support.asus.com/download.aspx?SLanguage=en&p=3&s=368&m=UX31E&os=&hashedid=GKaPKXPAHSUhQiWZ. When you select the TouchPad download category you will see the latest update for Sentelic and for Elantech.

To fix the wireless issue some of you are experiencing, please download the latest WLAN driver from http://support.asus.com/download.aspx?SLanguage=en&p=3&s=368&m=UX31E&os=&hashedid=GKaPKXPAHSUhQiWZ.

Best Regards,

ASUS Notebook Support
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on November 9, 2011
The laptops design - top notch. I returned my air last week after I saw this laptop. The metal finish is really amazing and the laptop is built very sturdily. It's got a nicer metal finish than the air and it does not leave nearly as many fingerprints. It's a grey shiny steel that really gives the laptop a unique appearance.

I got the UX-31E because I don't really think it makes sense to get an i-7 in this laptop. The i-5 is blazingly fast already - the computer loads up programs faster than my overclocked i-7 4.2Ghz (Overclocked). I know part of it is the "new computer effect", but the speed it reboots and starts up is amazing and audio and movies are smooth. Here are the major things I've noticed:

Sound: Better than my MacBook pro. Thank Harmon Kardon -- those guys are genius. When you hear it, you will be like wow, that is pretty amazing.(4.5 - 5)

Trackpad: When I first got the laptop, I almost chucked it against the wall. Then I installed, reinstalled, deleted, installed, and finally downloaded the Sentelic drivers -- tried the Elantech ones at first. Now it works, scrolls, and is pretty much an average windows trackpad with the Mac things built in. You gotta give it to apple, they made the trackpad magical. This trackpad is kind of like the Ryan Leaf of trackpads -- it looks nice and large so that you could paint on it -- its designed well with a nice piece of glass -- but its a giant bust. The left button sometimes does not click -- I still have one week to return so I may return and see if its a defect on my laptop or just the model. I have not had many reports of it online, so it could just be me. At the same time, you can always tap to click o ntrackpad which is what ive been doing anyway. So trackpad rating now: 3 out of 5. There is an update in the works, and most people have been saying that it will improve much of what is currently not working.

Screen: Blows the air out of the water - brighter colors, darker blacks and vivid. Also higher res -- And I do a lot of photography, and the glare screen hasnt killed me yet -- i do wish it was Matte but c'est la vie. (4.5-5 == only because I have a very nice monitor for my desktop -- laptop wise its excellent)

Speed: 5-5 (I am amazed at how fast this thing is. Just did some adobe photoshop rendering with blazing fast speeds)

Battery: 6.4 hours and going with intermittent use over 4 days. Still says 30% remaining. (Continuous use with Wifi 6 hours 14 minutes)

WiFi: Whoever keeps whining about his wifi, I think you guys need better routers. It picks up every signal perfectly fine -- update your drivers (This is true for the whole thing -- just do it, everything gets better. Its windows -- all about the drivers!) (4-5) Download speeds have been quick for me and I have not had any real issues here.

SD Reader: Rare in these kinds of ultrabooks but awesome -- If im not mistaken, the Air doesn't have that.

Overall 4 (maybe 5 if the trackpad drivers are updated well) --- because yes, the trackpad is not perfect -- I may / may not get an external mouse. Haven't decided.

Otherwise, this thing is faster, lighter, thinner and better than the Air. I own Mac's, I know some of you will whine, but it is true. It improves on a lot of things and it's windows which means I can finally use Office without it crashing every 5 seconds on a Mac, or Excel that runs Macros.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2012
First let me say this is the best computer I have ever had....ever...and I am a computer geek. However one problem surfaced right away. If you are a fast typist and aren't looking at the screen you will miss that much of the time the cursor jumps to another location and you are typing on the wrong line. Often the entire line will highlight and you will type the next key and it will entirely delete the line. This computer has the worst case of keyboard jump I have seen in laptops in over 8 years. Just horrendous. I was considering returning it but decided to hook an external keyboard to it instead. It worked perfectly (but of course you don't want to carry around one of those}. That told me, however, it was the ASUS keyboard and not something inherent in the computer itself. So, I started to play with some settings. Here is the problem: Multitouch. Here is the fix: Go into the windows control panel (in icon mode), click the mouse choice, select "Elan" (rightmost tab),click the Options button and go to the multifinger tab. work through all of the choices on the left: zooming, scrolling etc and UNCHECK all the enables.Click Apply and OK. Problem solved. Of course you won't have multitouch but who cares?
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on October 26, 2011
First, I'm going to mention all the amazing things about this laptop.
1. 1600x900 display. This screen is awesome; I don't think I could ever go back to using any other laptop's screen. Although it isn't IPS, I haven't had any problems with viewing angles...not that I've allowed this laptop to escape my grasp for the past two days.
2. Full range of ports. USB 3.0, micro HDMI, mini VGA, card reader, there's really everything I'm ever going to use on a daily basis. If I'm buying an ultraportable, I don't want bulky ports that I'm not going to use.
3. Metal chassis. I love how solid and luxurious this computer feels. I thought I was going to hate the spun finish on the front, but it actually looks great (it's much more subdued than all the pictures online led me to believe)! Believe me, this ultrabook is a showstopper. I had tons of compliments when I was using it in class the other day.
4. i5 processor + 128 GB SSD. The i5-2557M that powers this Zenbook is more than enough for everyday computing. Combined with the SSD, this is one of the fastest computers I've ever used. Also, out of the 103 GBs available in the SSD, I have 67 remaining. That's after installing a few browsers, Skype, iTunes, Office 2010, and antivirus software. Since it starts up so quickly, I can load everything I don't want cluttering up my SSD into Dropbox.
5. Instant On. The Zenbook does indeed start up from sleep in two seconds, and it takes around 15 to start from a cold reset.
6. Sound quality. When I tried out the speakers, I was just blown away. These are by far the best speakers I have ever heard on a laptop, especially one this small. They're really loud, but the quality is amazing - I heard no crackling or anything when I turned the volume up.
7. Free case, mini VGA, and Ethernet adapter. Asus really pulled out all the stops for accessories here. I have an EEE Pad Transformer, and I thought the charger was going to be as ugly as the Transformer's is, but I was wrong. Asus created the same spun finish on the sides of the charger as it did for the front of the laptop. I was really impressed.
8. Warranties included! One good thing about buying from Amazon is that Asus includes a 1 year global warranty and a 1 year accidental damage warranty. If you buy this computer from any of several brick and mortar stores in the US, the warranties aren't included. Since some credit cards add a year on to any manufacturer's warranty, for me, this was a free two-year warranty!
9. Design elements. I love the wedge profile of this computer. If I'm going to spend over a grand on a laptop, I want something that stands out, which this certainly does. As I mentioned, the body feels very strong, but it's still quite light. I can slip it into my backpack without even noticing its weight.

When I bought this computer, I had heard about the negative reviews. My biggest concerns were:
1. Bad/slow wireless
Actually, my reception has been fine. I've used this in my apartment and in class, and I haven't had any problems whatsoever. I didn't have to adjust my wireless settings to full power or anything like that.
2. Unusable touchpad
I admit, when I first started using the UX31, I was furious. The touchpad was skittish and nonreceptive. However, the update helped a huge amount. I'm still not completely used to the fact that the touchpad stays nonreceptive for a second or so after typing (as to not move the cursor with my wrists), but I'll learn to manage. Although it's a little disappointing for such an expensive product, I can live with it.
Furthermore, it took me a little while to realize this, but the bottom "button" area of the touchpad isn't designed to be used as a touchpad. It's more or less just a built in button. Now that I know that, it's not annoying when my fingers don't register movement on the bottom of the touchpad.
3. Shallow keys
The keyboard on this machine is high quality. I really like typing with it, and even though it took me a little while to get used to the position and feel of the keys, it's just as easy to type on as my desktop (or, almost as easy).

After using this machine for around two days now, I've decided that I'm definitely keeping it. While the touchpad isn't as stellar as I would like it to be, the shape, sound, and other physical attributes of the UX31 more than make up for it. Well done, Asus. The MacBook Air has a real competitor now.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on November 13, 2011
I was looking forward to getting this laptop for a very long time because I really liked the Air form factor but really dislike the closed nature of the Apple ecosystem. The Asus is definitely a beautiful laptop and I liked its design a lot, but I think they got the basics wrong, which is shocking: wireless, touchpad, keyboard, and customer service.

First and foremost the wireless did not function correctly. At first I noticed that it went in and out even though I was sitting right in front of the router and none of the other people in the room with laptops experienced the same problem. Alone, I could live with this, but if you plan to stream a lot of content, be forewarned. Second, when I opened up my laptop after closing it for a bit, it couldn't find ANY wireless networks. I had to troubleshoot, at which point it told me that the network adapter had been turned off and asked me if I wanted to turn it back on again. This happened EVERY time I opened the lid - so, so much for your instant connect. I really just can't imagine any good reason for why any computer manufacturer would ever default the computer to disable the wireless without the user asking for that. I updated the WLAN driver, updated the BIOS, and also changed the power settings so that wireless would never be turned off to conserve power. I did everything, and nothing fixed these issues for me. I should add that I have a very nice, relatively new $160 router - it's not the router!

Second, even though I updated the driver for the touchpad, I kept experiencing problems with it. Scroll worked ok, but not as smoothly as on an Air. However, the special gestures just didn't work properly. I'd try to zoom in or out and it would zoom too much or too little and when I tried to rein it back, it just kept overshooting and it just wasn't usable. Likewise, every zoom in or out took a while to actually update, so you'd just be sitting in front of a frozen page while it tried to change the size of the page - it wasn't an instant experience like on the iPhone or the Air. I ended up disabling those features. Likewise, the touchpad insisted on zooming even when all I was trying to do was scroll. So....it's livable, but it's no improvement on the standard touch pad if the gestures are basically unusable.

Third, the keyboard just wasn't great. I'd type and it would miss every 5th key or so. I'd have to go back and retype everything. I feel like this is something I could probably get used to after a while and train myself to type harder, but it just seemed strange to be having such a basic issue on a very expensive, top of the line laptop, when even the cheapest netbooks had better keyboards.

Fourth, I called Asus customer support. I had registered my laptop and had become a member with the support stuff, but they insisted on taking my name and email and machine number, making me respell everything three or four times. I'm really not kidding - it took them 10 minutes just to get that info down and I don't know what the point of registering with the site was if I was going to be asked all this stuff again. I told them I had wireless issues and they didn't suggest changing power saver settings or getting the new WLAN driver (I read about that online), instead they suggested updating the BIOS. They sent me a link to their updates page and that was it. So, first of all, I feel like they didn't offer all available fixes. Second, when I went to the page there were three BIOS options and I had no idea which one I needed. I got all three, but then I couldn't open and install them! My friend figured out you had to go to a utility on the computer to get them updated. NOWHERE did it say how to implement these updates. We did use the utility, but then there was no feedback to say that anything had been updated, so who knows if it even worked. I called support back and they insisted that I give them all of that personal info again, even though I had a service number from the last time I called. So I had to repeat my name 5 times yet again! Don't they have all that info on file from the last call?? Why give a service number if you're going to spend 10 minutes asking me basic info AGAIN? So I gave him all that info and he started doing something and I was on hold for a while and we got disconnected. I called a third time, and they asked me for all of my info AGAIN. I told the person that I had already given info twice in the last hour and I didn't want to do it again, since clearly it was in front of him now that I had provided a service number and the info twice before. He insisted three times that he couldn't help me without me "verifying" that the info was correct. So, I gave up and hung up.

So, be forewarned, trying to get service is both unhelpful and frustrating.

In the end, I decided to send this back and I'm typing this review from an Air. Trust me, I waited for over a year to replace my laptop just so that I wouldn't have to buy an Apple, but dealing with the Asus truly drove me into Apple's arms. With the Air, none of those issues are a problem. If you ever need tech support, you show up at an Apple store and someone helps you instantly - no calls to Bangalore with people who are just reading from a script. Everything just works. There's no bloatware. In the Asus, you had both Asus and Windows utilities that seemed to conflict- like more than one manager for power and wireless. You might have fixed a problem in one and not the other. Plus, you get a nice backlit keyboard and pretty amazing gestures. Sure, it's more expensive, but if you're going to shell out over $1000 for a laptop anyway, don't you expect the most fundamental things to work?

As an aside for Asus's benefit, since you guys read this site, I think you sunk not just the Zenbook, but the entire ultrabook campaign. People really thought they'd finally get an Air alternative and then were sorely disappointed. Guess what? They did what I did - returned your computer and got an Air. Guess who won't be buying another laptop for another 2 years or so? All of the people who were disappointed with yours! But, that's not just bad news for the Zenbook, it's bad news for you because those of us whose first intro to Asus was the Zenbook now believe that you make half baked products. Likewise, you've proven yet again that no one can do it as well as Apple. This is all very unfortunate because many of us were rooting for an Apple competitor and many of us truly do believe that the more open approach to software development and platforms is the right way to go. But, by creating yet another crappy product, I think you're driving many people to believe otherwise. Problem is that once Apple gets you into their ecosystem with one product, they really make it appealing to then add other products or services to that ecosystem and the more people do that, the harder it will be for you to ever get them out of it. I think you missed a real opportunity to turn things around for yourselves.
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