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ASUS Zenbook UX31A-DB51 13.3-Inch Ultrabook (OLD VERSION)
ASUS Zenbook UX31A-DB51 13.3-Inch Ultrabook (OLD VERSION)

248 of 254 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars And on the third day... the touchpad got me! (touchpad fixed), July 9, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I have had this laptop for about 3 days now. I had been wanting the zenbook since the original UX31E had come out, but held back after the reviews about the keyboard and the touchpad.

The new display on the ux31a was an instant sell. Having used nothing but high resolution laptops, i had hung on to my trusty HP 6820p for 4+ years.

The reviews for UX31 are mostly on the mark, but strangely somehow still fail to point the one "true" issue.

Now moving on to something more useful..

1) The display is to die for. I spent an hour with the retina mac pro, while i didn't see both the screens side by side. I'm ecstatic that ASUS is finally pushing laptops to move up from the resolution backsliding going on for the last 5 years. You will not miss the retina display on a mac with this. Half the price is just a bonus.

2) It is _light_.

3) The biggest showstopper is the touchpad out of the box. Yes, i'm referring to the touchpad on ux31, not the older ux31e. Multi touch etc. etc. works well. (have two macs at home for comparison). The thing that just about ruins this little gem is the horrendous behavior of the touchpad when your palm brushes it during typing. There is no way you can really avoid this, and it is impossible to do any typing without the cursor moving and the tap to touch causing irritating behavior. (like prematurely sending an email, closing the email, clicking a background app into focus). How this went past anyone in any QA dept. is beyond me. It's that bad, just typing a 2 line sentence is near impossible. This was entirely preventable with just a bit more diligence by ASUS. This one problem is bad enough to warrant a return if it weren't the fix that later became available.

I upgraded the drivers to the THEN latest on the ux31a page on asus support. They didn't work any better. Update: ASUS has finally put an updated version that addresses the issue much better.

Initially i was concerned that I was out of luck and that this could be a trackpad hardware limitation. Thankfully a bit of investigation digging through the registry in the HKLM\CurrentControlSet\Services\ElanTech revealed a plethora of values that seeemed promising.

Further investigation led to a rather huge thread on this topic on the laptop support forums for the elan trackpads on Samsung laptops. A bit of spelunking revealed an updated driver (10.7.16.1). This one proved to be a winner. Not sure if it was the actual driver update, or the very significantly different configuration settings in the registry that made the difference, but at the end of the day the problem is mitigated nearly completely (and without disabling the trackpad while you are typing).

I think there is still some fine tuning to do with the relatively sensitive trackpad, but am a bit more at ease as I think it's just a matter of tweaking the settings just right. I think the elan folks will get it right with just a bit more time. I wish the control panel utility gave you more tuning options without having to figure it out on a trial and error approach with the registry variables. The newer version samsung is using has an 'advanced' tab which seems to be heading in this direction

This is my first ever review and I am only writing it because I really dig this laptop. I'd hate to have this not succeed due to the egregious trackpad palm detection issue. Asus's strength is clearly not software QA.

A few other observations that I haven't seen mentioned before.

4) The adapter when plugging into socket always seems to spark as it's plugged in. I haven't seen this from any other adapter, so am wondering about the reliability. It also seems to run a bit hot compared the mac one. This is just an observation, not an issue (i had no less than 5 adapters fail with the HP). Update: I was looking for additional adapters so I don't have to keep carrying the one around, they seem to extremely expensive online, ~$120. There are non ASUS brands available all the way down to $15, so will probably try one of those, I wonder what the difference is. I suspect it's to do with the charging logic / led indicator on the OEM one. I thought the charging controller was in the laptop and not the adapter, but not entirely sure about this now.

5) The keyboard is just fine, I saw some posts ranting about ux31 keyboard, and i don't know what they are talking about. It's pretty good, and i type reams.

6) There is bleeding of light at the bottom of the lcd, but it's a non issue and an observation i made only because I read about it on other reviews.

7) The keyboard backlighting is nice to have.. but again, don't think it's as big a deal as it's been made out to be when it was missing in ux31e.

8) The display hinge is just fine, it holds up well. If you suddenly lift it, then there might be a tad amount of sway. I think it's only because this laptop is so thin and light that people apply more g's. (I couldn't do that with my old laptop with both my hands if i wanted to because it was so heavy). It feels pretty sturdy compared to the luddite laptop i am used to.

9) I had tried win 8 for a short period on this laptop, seemed to work about the same. (Reverted to win 7 for work reasons after an hour or so).

10) The battery seems to last 6+ hours with just web browsing / email..

11) The wifi has been working well, no problems so far. The previous HP laptop I had would lose WIFI connection whenever the microwave went on for a minute. This one hasn't exhibited that problem.

12) The USB to Ethernet adapter is unfortunately 10/100, not Gigabit.. and for me it's a big deal. Copying around large VMs is the norm and this limitation is a rather big issue. The limitation seems to be from the PHY ASUS is sourcing from 'asix'? They seem to have a new USB3 to GBE part available, so I'm sure in future models this limitation will be addressed. I wonder why they didn't go with USB 2 to GBE phy as it seems to have been available for a while. It works well, counter intuitively its actually proving to be nicer to use the USB connection than the RJ45 jack.

13) The built in VGA adapter worked great when using a projector. Haven't tried out the HDMI out yet, need to go buy a micro HDMI cable.

14) Headphone out works fine, another reviewer mentioned an issue so tested it just in case.

Rating a 4, due to the trackpad runaround that's now resolved. Folks with trackpad issues should just get the latest version from ASUS or Samsung support site. I prefer the Samsung driver.
Comment Comments (29) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 5, 2013 9:23 PM PDT


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