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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on October 15, 2011
At long last, PC users finally have a strong alternative to the Macbook Air in the ultrathin, ultralight category. The ASUS UX31 meets or exceeds the technical specifications of the base model 13" Macbook Air, while starting many hundreds of dollars less expensive. Kudos to ASUS for throwing in the VGA and ethernet dongles rather than nickel-and-dime-ing you like Apple with extra charges for these standard accessories. The included sleeve will do a fine job protecting the laptop, but it seems like rather cheap synthetic materials to me- can't complain at this price, though.

In particular, I was happy to see ASUS put a high-resolution 1600x900 13" display, unlike the recently announced Acer ultrabook which has a standard 1366x768 resolution. More time with Adobe Creative Suite will be needed for a final verdict, but the display seems high-quality enough for most consumers.

I found the keyboard to require a bit more pressure on keys to type with than the Macbook Air, resulting in some missed keystrokes, but that will probably change over time. Also, the trackpad does not have a high-quality feel to it- the front is split into two "clickable" regions, but the touchpad layer itself feels like a brittle, thin film of plastic that FEELS like it will break after a while- only time will tell.

Thank goodness for the other reviewer who mentioned downloading new drivers for the trackpad- the "Sentelic Finger Sensing Pad" has HORRIBLE response out of the box- often not recognizing taps and gestures, jumpy tracking, and choppy scrolling. I wouldn't have noticed since the Asus LiveUpdate utility did not report any new software. It turns out that the drivers on the support site are labeled as "Beta" and won't be automatically downloaded until they are considered "final". Do yourself a favor, though, and download them anyway. Still not as smooth and accurate as on the Macbook Air, but a big improvement.

To answer a comment on the previous review, this laptop uses WiFi/Bluetooth hardware from Atheros, not Intel, so WiDi is not supported. I've had some flakiness with the WiFi- not sure how good the reception is, as I'm very close (i.e. at the same desk) to the base station and often not getting more than 3/5 bars in the indicator.

Thankfully, the laptop comes without too much additional software. Trend Micro antivirus software is included, but I didn't activate it and simply downloaded the free Microsoft Security Essentials instead so it will be easily updated with Windows Update- oh, and be prepared for the usual many waves of Windows Updates to install, with one batch causing the laptop to freeze and hang after reboot for me, forcing a hard reset. Not a great first experience, but one I'll blame Microsoft for rather than ASUS. Finally, ASUS and Intel have a bunch of annoying gadgets installed to show you various battery and CPU status, but they seem easily uninstalled.

The one thing I'm confused about is the so-called "ASUS Instant On" feature. Honestly, I don't know what turning "Instant On" ON does other than change the default Start menu button from "Shutdown" to "Sleep". Sleep mode with automatic Hibernation when the battery gets low has already been part of Windows 7, so is it really doing something different that requires me to keep yet ANOTHER utility open and running all the time? Seems like just marketing- except if so, this marketing spin adds yet another cr@plet running on the desktop...?
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 24, 2011
I waited for this notebook for ages, something I never do. I even preordered it through amazon and got fantastically fast shipping.
The UX31 is as beautiful as I thought it would be, but the performance doesn't match.

The good:
Stunning chassis, just beautiful, solid and lovely to hold.
Resolution is amazing, it's really lovely to look at
Screen tilts back a long way

The bad:
The keyboard! You really have to smack those keys otherwise you just miss keystrokes.
The trackpad! Asus has already made 2 updates to this, and apparently a third is due out soon. It kind of feels like swirling around on ice, it's smooth for big motions but not the small.
Too much bass on the sound for my liking, the whole machine rattles...

Wireless is actually pretty good, in spite of other people's comments. It outperforms my 2009 macbook air.

I don't think I'll be keeping this sadly. It just doesn't meet my expectations for a $1000+ computer.

I am a PC user that has tried to love Macbook Airs but I just couldn't get used to the keyboard layout. After two months I would still be hitting the wrong keys (they're all in the wrong place!). After being disappointed with my UX31, I went back to my old MBA and installed keyremap4macbook. It's a great free program that has preset key remap settings for PC users, or set your own, and suddenly I could type comfortably on the old MBA. Best discovery ever! Only works in OSX but I was quite enjoying it.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on May 24, 2012
I bought one 2 months ago and a couple days ago I noticed that the battery monitor was always at 68% and charging. But if you unplug it it just powers off. After restoring the thing to factory defaults etc still the same problem. I called up Asus and after 20 minutes on the phone I got the response "our RMA system is currently down could you call back". I assumed it was because they're using Asus hardware or they just overloaded it with all the zenbook RMA's. Either way I'm stuck having to now go through a return/repair process on a 2 month old laptop I needed for traveling on business out of the country. Needless to say I won't be buying anymore products from Asus. Seriously? "Our RMA system is down could you call back?" That's the last thing I ever want to hear when my laptop is sitting dead.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 7, 2012
I actually purchased both the Toshiba Z830 and the Asus UX31 so I could decide for myself which one I liked the best. Both come with a 128GB solid-state hard drive and 4GB RAM. The Asus has an i5 processor while the Toshiba (which costs $100-200 less) has an i3 processor. Here's what I liked and what I didn't like:

Appearance
The Asus with its spiral design is gorgeous. The Toshiba is boring gun-metal gray with sharp corners.
Winner: Asus

Weight
The Asus is heavier than the Toshiba by a half-pound. As a result, the Toshiba's display has some flex to it and will wobble if the laptop is bumped. In the end, however, I can deal with this. That half-pound is something I can really feel when I'm carrying the laptop around.
Winner: Toshiba

Speed
The i5 processor in the Asus easily beats the i3 processor in the Toshiba I purchased. Of course, you always have the option of purchasing a Toshiba online with the faster processor.
Winner: Asus

Touchpad
The Asus I purchased came with a Sentelic touchpad. The latest driver (ver. 9177) stinks and results in the mouse jumping all over the place. I finally had to uninstall it and rely on the built-in Windows 7 touchpad driver (which meant I had to give up gestures like scrolling). Newer versions of the UX31 apparently ship with a far improved Elan touchpad. The touchpad on my Toshiba is significantly smaller with shiny chrome buttons that pick up fingerprints but it's so far superior to the Sentelic in terms of its functionality. Furthermore, there's a button just about the Toshiba touchpad that allows you to enable or disable it.
Winner: Toshiba

Keyboard
Too many times, I found I had to hit keys on the Asus multiple times before I got them to register. Not so on the Toshiba. Furthermore, the Toshiba's keyboard is wider which allows it to have dedicated Home, End, PgUp, and PgDn keys on the far right. On the Asus, I have to hold down the FN key. Finally, the Toshiba's keyboard is backlit, a very nice touch.
Winner: Toshiba

Display
The Asus has a gorgeous 1600x900 resolution screen. The Toshiba comes with a commonplace 1366x768 display.
Winner: Asus

Ports
The Toshiba has built-in connections for Ethernet, external VGA monitor, and HDMI. The Asus ships with dongles for Ethernet and VGA but requires you to purchase a micro-HDMI adapter separately. Furthermore, the Toshiba has 1 USB3 port and 2 USB2 ports while the Asus only has 1 and 1. Obviously, the Toshiba wins hands down for its plentiful built-in ports.
Winner: Toshiba

AC Adapter
The Asus AC adapter is small and lovingly designed. The Toshiba adapter is bulky and unwieldy by comparison.
Winner: Asus

System indicator lights
The Toshiba has an entire array of useful indicator lights just below the touchpad. The Asus has a couple spread across the keyboard.
Winner: Toshiba

Accessories
The Asus ships with a padded sleeve. The Toshiba doesn't.
Winner: Asus

Heat and Fan Noise
With an updated BIOS in each machine, heat and fan noise was not a problem for me.
Winner: Tie

Speakers
Both sets of speakers are nice and loud, but the Asus Bang & Olufsen speakers sound better.
Winner: Asus

Battery
The Toshiba edged out the Asus by about an hour or so.
Winner: Toshiba

The Toshiba Z830/Z835 is easily my laptop of choice. Granted, it's slower than the Asus, but not noticeably considering how I plan to use it.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2012
(UPDATED ON 2/13/12, SEE BELOW)

I feel like the UX31 models have been unfairly reviewed by many Amazon users and thought I'd throw my two cents in. I just received my UX31-DH52 yesterday, so this is mostly a "first impressions" review; I will be sure to add more later on.

There's not much to say about the design that hasn't already been said, this machine is stunning. The aluminum finish feels very solid, yet the device remains incredibly thin and lightweight. The port selection is so so, with the two major complaints being no standard HDMI out (only a micro HDMI out, you can buy micro HDMI to HDMI cables for very cheap) and no native ethernet port. However, ASUS was smart to package an ethernet dongle with the laptop. One of the reasons I was attracted to the Zenbook was the 1600x900 display, and it doesn't disappoint. The screen is beautiful and bright. The machine boots up really fast, even the first time it was turned on. Some reviewers were critical of ASUS for shipping out Zenbooks with different hardware configurations (Elan/Sentallic track pads), but I believe this was only the case for the first couple of batches sold in October/November 2011, and ASUS has since only used the Elan track pad. I could be wrong about that, however. The track pad has been condemned in the reviews, but so far I haven't had any issues. Perhaps my expectations were extremely low, but I actually quite like the track pad. The single biggest issue with the machine is the keyboard, but I don't think this is an isolated problem with the Zenbook. It takes time to get used to a new keyboard, and I think it's disingenuous to give a poor review solely due to a keyboard that you haven't gotten used to yet. I also have a netbook, and the small keyboard was incredibly hard to get used to, but now I can type on it with no problem. I honestly feel I will have the same results with the Zenbook keyboard after extended use. Performance wise, the computer is very snappy and responsive, but I will have to test it out more before I can accurately go into detail.

Overall, I'm incredibly impressed with the UX31 in my admittedly limited use. I will be sure to add to this review down the road, but my first impressions of the machine blew me away.

** UPDATE ON 2/13/12 **
After a few more days of use, I thought I'd add a few more things to this review. Just as I had expected, the more I use the keyboard the easier it is to type on it. I still have a few more unregistered key strokes than I would like, however it's only been a few days and I'm confident that after a week or so I won't have such problems. The track pad continues to impress me, I'm shocked at the negative backlash it received in earlier reviews. My guess is people had one of two problems... a) didn't install the most recent track pad drivers, or b) keep one finger rested on the left click button while scrolling. The two finger scrolling works extremely well, although I have noticed if you attempt to use the two finger scrolling while watching a YouTube video or listening to a song (I was on the Google Music web page), the computer will think the scrolling gesture means to jump to the end of said video/song (or go to the next song if listening to a playlist, in my case). I will investigate further on this to see if this option can be disabled, however this wasn't a big deal for me. The battery life has been great thus far, as I'm able to get over 6 and 1/2 hours with moderate use and low/medium brightness settings. Performance has been great, I haven't seen the computer skip a beat yet. Not only that, but the PC runs incredibly cool and quiet, even when under heavy CPU stress. The fans run out near the top hinge, which keeps the bottom nice and cool for anyone who likes to place the computer on their lap. The sound is simply amazing for a laptop, very pleasantly surprised with that. Overall the more I use this laptop, the more I love it.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2011
I almost returned this laptop for a macbook air (boot camp and run Windows7, it's only $200 more).
I decided to keep the UX31, but the problems that other users commented are accurate.
In the end, the pros outweigh the cons for me, but I can see why so many ppl have returned it.

Pros -
1) form factor/thin (I travel a lot, so this is important to me)
2) 2 sec resume (yes, it works as advertised), system also cold boots under 20 secs
3) 1600x900 Resolution (movies look great on it)
4) performance - it's fast

Cons -
1) trackpad
2) TRACKPAD!! Asus seriously? All my custom computers have Asus motherboards. Makes me look @ Gigabyte/MSI/EVGA motherboards after purchasing this.
3) wireless adapter sucks - read anandtech.com's review on it
[..]

Here's how I tamed my UX31E
- uninstalled all Asus crapware except instant on. I'm stable after un-installing all Asus software. Not sure why ppl have problems uninstalling all of Asus's power management software.
- disabled all trackpad gestures
- Updated BIOS to v207 and all drivers
- set wireless power settings to "maximum performance" for balance and high performance profiles
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 2, 2011
11/02/2011 review.
I will only address the issues as most already knew how beautiful the physical of it is.

1- Keyboard: The key stroke is short, so the bouncy feeling weird which results in missing a few keys at first. I personally think it will become a second nature once I get used to it. It's bad compare to Macbook Air.
2- Touch pad: When I opened the box and used it, I noticed it acts normal similar to my desktop. My desktop has a wheel, so it's normal to me. But it is totally unacceptable comparing to the Macbook Air, which is very smooth. After touchpad driver, it's abit smooth, but still need some more work.
3- Wireless LAN: Out of the box, I have no issue. Really, till now I have no issue. But I update the driver anyway.

Conclusion: I'll keep it. Asus rushed it out, period. I took it a part to see if I can change the internal, heck no. most of the parts are built to spec. Look at the photo I uploaded.

11/15/2011 Review.
I observed that when I plug the adapter to the computer I see " Spark ". This is no good. I tried to play around and see what's the cause. My assumption is that the plug(tip to the laptop) is a bit small, so it moves more than it should. Let see if it can fry the laptop.

03/23/2012 Review.
Updated SBIOS to 211 and it kept getting blue screen. Revert back to 210 and it is stable. Stay away from 211 BIOS for now.

04/01/2012
*****************Wifi problem solved.********************
The wifi card is Atheros AR9485WB, kept losing internet(still connect to router). Even I clicked disconnected, and reconnected the problem still there. Very annoying. I had to restart the computer to make it works again. The new driver is out(driver date: 02/23/2012), but not yet on Asus website yet. If you want the driver, leave your email add, I will send out as request.
review image
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2012
I received my zenbook yesterday. I am generally very happy with its looks and everything. It does look amazing and the sound is very good. The keyboard will take some getting used to. It does miss the occasional keystroke, but maybe with time I can get used to it.

The ELAN touchpad that came with my unit initially performed pretty bad. But after running ASUS live update and updating the driver, it works much better now. So my advice to everyone is to definitely update your drivers upon receiving your units.

The real unfortunate part is the SSD. Mine shipped with the Sandisk U100 SSD, and what they say about the performance difference is very true.

see this link for the SSD comparison between the ADATA Sandforce and the Sandisk U100. When I ran CrystalDiskMark, I got even worse performance than what the website below indicated. Just terrible in terms of small data size transfers.

[...]
in case Amazon doesn't allow linking to external reviews, just google "Zenbook SSD Performance"

We are talking about a more than 20-times performance difference for smaller file writes! As I am playing with my ultrabook right now, I am noticing more and more brief pauses/hangs as I navigate the system, this is very likely due to the fact that the laptop is performing some small file writes that is taking a noticeable time to complete. What I am trying to say is that this is not just a benchmark difference... It does affect normal use.

I used to have an old Dell mini-9 with 16GB SSD. The system pauses on that unit was unbearable because the write performances on those old SSDs were so terrible. Of course the Sandisk U100 is nowhere near as bad on this ultrabook, but these brief pauses I am seeing now reminds me of those bad times...

Really, how can ASUS use the Sandforce ADATA and Sandisk U100 interchangeably in this ultrabook? They are clearly in different performance classes, and shouldn't be sold with the same Product ASIN so customers can clearly pick which SSD option they want when making a buying decision.

It is too bad with purchases form Amazon, we couldn't specify which SSD version we can wish to get. At least ASUS now places the SSD stickers on the box, so if purchased from a retail location, one can look for the Sandforce SSD instead of the Sandisk. But for online purchases, we have no visibility. I have a feeling that perhaps all the Sandisk SSD units are getting distributed to online retailers since the end users wouldn't know ahead of time.

I really wanted to give this product 5 stars. But for the abysmal Sandisk U100 SSD performance, I can only give it 3 at best. Maybe even a 2 since I feel I was misled about the potential performance of this laptop's SSD.

ASUS should really address this issue and start shipping ultrabooks with different SSDs with different product IDs, and also offer to existing customers with the U100 SSDs an option to replace theirs with units with the ADATA Sandforce. I am very disappointed.
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The manufacturer commented on the review below
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on April 10, 2012
Researched this unit from release date.. Had a Mac Air, and my son at Purdue decided he needed it for his Nuclear Eng class more than i did... LOL

First of all, i liked the looks, and feel. It was sturdy and very elegant,. Wide bezel around the screen, was a bit much. The Touch pad was a bit quirky as it seemed to have hiccups at times and would not respond for several seconds the was fine until i let it set for a min or two. Not impressed with the screen as i still had to lower the resolution to be able to read the type on screen. Viewing angle not too bad,, for a laptop.

HOWEVER: I returned mine because of missed key strokes... There is no way anyone could type 100wpm on the one i had.,. The keys would rock on the corners, and tilt unless hit in the middle. Maybe one of the problems with mine is that i used it as a lap top,, not a desktop unit. If i wanted to sit at a table to type, would have just bought a tower.. The worst keys were the A C L,, and forget the period key... try typing "Best of luck" with a key board that misses the "L" half the time... I got some heated response from a couple of friends, because i did not notice the problem when i first got the unit, and their emails were quite cryptic. Slow?? really bad for speed. I could actually play [...] faster my Galaxy tab and Acer 722 than on the Zenbook,, Surfing the web seemed slow also.. New chips due out soon,, Maybe they will help,, but get that keypad fixed.

I don't care for the Mac OS. but will probably get another and install windows. It's like buying a Lexus to haul firewood,
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The manufacturer commented on this review (What's this?)
Dear Valued ASUS Customer,

We thank you for the feedback provided on this Ultrabook. Most of the feedback thath as been communicated to us thus far has shown positive reactions to the keyboard on this laptop. However, we do appreciated your feedback and will work to further improve future versions of our keyboard.

Sincerely,

ASUS Notebook Support
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on November 3, 2011
First off, this thing is gorgeous. It truly makes the prototype computer in the category, the MacAir, look frumpy. The feel of the laptop is first rate too; the computer feels very solid and perfect to the touch. Asus did a great job packaging the UX31: it's really nicely boxed with an attractive and functional sleeve, as well as a matching pouch for accessories. I don't plan on using mine as a presentation laptop, but a direct mini HDMI and VGA port adapter are included. Two USB ports, one of them USB 3.0, are available. I think a USB 3.0 port is far more useful at this point than a Thunderbolt connector except in a very few cases (1. You have a Thunderbolt jack on your monitor, 2. You have one of the rare and very overpriced Thunderbolt connectivity external hard drives).

The screen is sensational. If your UX31 is closed, people can't help but notice the sleek design. If it's open, they'll be wowed by the screen. The 1600 x 900 resolution is class leading, and the brightness is as well. It's one of the few laptops you can use outside if you want. Some have complained about the off angle viewing being sub-par. In normal usage this is not an issue. How often do you use your laptop while looking at the screen from 45 degrees off to the side? If you are buying a laptop to watch movies with a group of friends, this is probably the wrong computer for you. But then, any laptop is probably the wrong computer for you.

Like all computers with a solid state drive, boot up is amazingly fast. Also like all thin SSD laptops, storage space is limited compared to a traditional hard drive. This should be taken into consideration if this is intended as your sole computer. I bought the 128 GB model, and will use my desktop as the primary storage site for data, photos, videos long term. I think the UX31 will have enough space for my mobile needs, especially since I'm storing most of my music in the cloud with Google Music these days.

Battery life, even with the screen brightness cranked up, is quite good. Charging is also fast with the well designed AC adapter. Unfortunately, in keeping with Asus tradition, the charging pin is small and feels inadequate compared to the rest of the device. The charging light on the plug that attaches to the computer will occasionally blink back and forth between red and green with the slightest of touches, indicating a so-so connection. It gets the job done, but should be better.

The touchpad on my unit was initially overly touchy and somewhat erratic, as others have reported. Asus responded promptly with an update, however, and that has resulted in good functionality for me. I think most people would not think anything of it, pro or con, compared to other laptops.

The facial recognition hardly worked at all when I first got my computer, but Asus has also promptly updated the drivers for that. Since the update, it works most of the time. It's a little gimmicky, but I've been having fun with logging on using facial recognition mode instead of a password (you can always use a password instead, of course).

I think the biggest potential drawback to the UX31 is the keyboard. It is low profile, as necessitated by the overall design, and the keys can take some adjusting to. I have found it fine for my purposes, but it could be better. If I was using my laptop primarily for intensive keyboard sessions like typing a PhD dissertation, or the like, I don't think I would recommend this laptop. For most general users, though, I think adaptation to the keyboard will occur fairly quickly. If you're not sure, you should try a test run, but keep in mind that it may take a day or two to totally get used to it. I find that's true with most mobile keyboards I use.

Overall, I love this laptop. The outstanding design and build, stellar screen, and excellent performance greatly outweigh it's shortcomings. Especially for someone who wants to primarily run Win7, this is THE thin laptop to get right now. Even Mac users will be seriously reconsidering their commitment to OS X; we have three Macbooks and an HP laptop in the family. My wife uses a Macbook, and has been jealously eyeing my UX31 since it's arrival. I am kind of glad they're in short supply right now--I really like having the coolest laptop in the house.
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