September 23, 2012
I've been chasing the perfect PC laptop for over a decade now.
Though I've tolerated lugging around five to seven pound machines because I had to, laptops were always about portability first and most of all to me. I quickly gravitated to so-called ultraportable laptops as soon as they became available. The first one was the 2003 Dell Inspiron 300M. It was the first laptop I found that delivered a decent 3-ish pound package without too many compromises. How I loved this little thing.
But there was a downside to that 2003-era ultraportability – the default battery in the system provided about 2 hours of runtime. Switching to the larger battery extended that to a much more respectable 5.5 hours, but it also added a pound to the system and protruded from the rear a bit.
I've pursued the same dream of reasonable power with extreme portability ever since, with varying degrees of success. The PC industry isn't exactly known for its design leadership, and it can be downright schizophrenic at times. So if you were a fan of laptops that were actually thin and light and portable, it's been rough going for a long time. 2007's Dell XPS M1330 was a brief bright spot, but honestly, it's only in the last few months I've found an ultraportable that lived up to my expectations, one that I feel confident in recommending. That laptop is the Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A.
Having lived with this laptop for about two months now, I can safely say it is without question the best PC laptop I've ever owned. Consider the Tech Report review and the Engadget review, both rave. Here's what you need to know:
- Retina-esque 1920x1080 resolution in an amazingly high quality 13.3" IPS display
- Intel's latest 17 watt Ivy Bridge processor with (finally!) decent integrated graphics
- 128 GB SSD with fast 6Gbps interface
- Just under 3 pounds
- Decent 6 hour runtime
- Classy brushed metal case and cover
All of this for about $1,050 at the time of writing. If you're suffering through a sub-par TN display on your current laptop, the awesome IPS display is almost worth an upgrade on its own. After switching to bargain Korean IPS displays on the desktop, I'm desperately hoping my poor eyeballs never have to endure another awful TN LCD display for the rest of my life.
This is a machine that pleasantly surprised me at every turn. The keyboard is solid feeling with a dimmable backlight, and the achilles heel of all PC laptops, the trackpad, is about as good as it ever gets on PCs. Which is to say still not great. Even the power adapter is classy, although highly derivative of Apple. While this is substantially closer to the ideal ultraportable hardware I've had in my brain since 2003, it still exhibits some of the same problems I experienced with that Inspiron 300M almost 10 years ago:
- An operating system pre-loaded with useless craplets and pointless bloatware, all in the name of hypothetical value add by the vendor and/or marketing subsidies.
- Several branding stickers I had to peel off the machine after I opened the box. (Note that the press photos for a machine never include these ugly stickers. Go figure.)
- A trackpad that works kinda-sorta OK, but never quite inspires enough confidence that I can stop carrying an external mouse around in my laptop bag with me.
The first thing I did when I got the laptop was wipe it and install the Windows 8 preview, and soon after updated it to the final Windows 8 release. Despite all the grousing about the tablet-centric nature of Windows 8 – some of which is warranted, but can easily be ignored entirely – I am an unabashed fan of the operating system. It is a big improvement over Windows 7 in my day to day use. The more I use Windows 8 the more I believe it's the biggest step forward in Windows since Windows 95. So what I've put together here is probably the best, most platonic ideal form of Wintel laptop hardware you can buy in mid-2012.
(In the interests of full disclosure, I actually own two of these. One for my wife and one for me. Because I am an inveterate hotrodder, I had to have more memory and a larger, faster SSD. So I bought the UX32VD model which has a discrete Nvidia 620M GPU and, most importantly, can be upgraded internally. So I dropped in a Samsung 830 512 GB SSD and 8 GB DIMM. This led to a slightly oddball final configuration of 10 GB RAM and an internal embedded 32 GB SSD plus the 512 GB SSD. It hurts battery life by at least an hour, too. You should also know that the teeny-tiny Torx screws on the back of this laptop are not to be trifled with. Bring your jeweler's loupe. In case it wasn't already abundantly clear, let me spell it out for you: going this route is not recommended unless you are as crazy as I am. The base model is really nice! Trust me!)
If pressed, I might admit the combination of ASUS Zenbook Prime hardware and modern Windows 8 amenities lives up to the whole Intel "Ultrabook" marketing schtick. But I'm not sure that's enough any more.
Every time I leave the house – heck, every time I leave the room – I have to decide what kind of computer I'm going to take with me, if any. Besides the ultraportable laptops, I now own an iPhone 5, several retina iPads, and a Nexus 7. I'm sure there are many more of these devices on the way. In the calculus of deciding what kind of computing device I want with me, even the most awesome ultraportable laptop I can find is no longer enough. Consider:
- Want 10 hours of real world battery life? Even when doing actual work that would ramp the CPU up? Many tablets and phones can achieve that magical 10 hour battery life figure, but it will be a long, long time before you reliably get that out of any ultraportable laptop. Personally, I blame x86.
- Want to start doing stuff immediately? Even Windows 8, which has radically improved wake times, is laughably slow to start up compared to tablets and phones which are practically instant-on by design.
- Want the smallest most portable device you can get away with? It's unlikely that will be a laptop, even an ultraportable, because of the implied keyboard and connectivity ports, plus the big screen and hinge. There is no form factor more compact than the touchscreen tablet. And you've got to take your phone along in any case, because that's how your family and loved ones will contact you, right? Have you seen the iPhone 5 benchmarks? It's faster than most tablets!
- Want to be always connected to the Internet? Sure you do; how else can you get to Stack Overflow and Stack Exchange for all of life's essential questions? Then you probably need some kind of cellular support, for 3G or 4G or LTE or whatever the telephone companies are calling high speed Internet access these days. That is quite rare on traditional laptops, but obviously common on phones and much easier to find on tablets.
- Want easy access? Just try opening a laptop on a crowded subway train or bus. Or with, say, 3 toddlers running around your house. I dare you. But phones and 7" tablets offer easy one handed operation; you can whip them out and fill whatever time you have available, whereas cracking open a laptop feels like a sizable commitment in time and space to doing something.
My laptop is increasingly a device I only take when I know I'll need to do a lot of typing, and/or I'll need a lot of screen space to work. But even a phone could do that if it had decent support for bluetooth keyboards and external displays, couldn't it? And even a few programmers, the audience who would most need all the power and flexibility of laptops, are switching to tablets.
I've waited 12 years for the PC industry to get its collective act together and, if nothing else, successfully copy Apple's laptop hardware designs. Now that they (mostly) have, I wonder: is it too late? Has the PC industry irrevocably shifted underneath them while they were so busy pumping out endless refinements to generic x86 boxes? I love this new laptop, and in many ways it is the perfect ultraportable hardware I dreamed of having in 2003. But every time I power it up and use it, I feel a little sad. I can't shake the feeling that this might end up being the last PC laptop I ever own.
Posted by Jeff Atwood
I purchased this laptop a while back, and I wholeheartedly agree with your recommendation. Having just convinced a friend to purchase it a mere few hours ago, I was very happy to have my suggestion affirmed. This is honestly the only computer I've ever used (including a Macbook Air) where I have positively enjoyed the hardware itself.
As for your comments on the "last PC" part, I have found that the combination of the Zenbook and Win8 has been easy and fast enough to whip out and chat with as I'm walking through the hallways on campus. Call me crazy, but I think that the tablet/laptop hybrids (and perhaps the straight win8 tablets) are more than capable of filling that gap.
I have considered getting a Nexus 7 for entertainment (all my TV and movies are through Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon instant streaming), but I'm afraid I won't be able to stand the screen after using this one. What's your thoughts on that particular piece of hardware?
And yes, Win8 is the best OS in general I have ever used. There's still a few things I like about Linux, but most of those are just pieces of software written by *nix developers that don't bother to port to Windows (MeteorJS is the big one atm).
This is a great laptop, a friend bought one when it was first released here in Taiwan. We did find the base on the first unit we got was warped which meant it would rock when typing, so we had it replaced. Probably just a first-batch issue, but something to keep an eye out for.
The laptop I bought two years ago is my last too. If laptop manufacturers want my money they need to make a laptop with a decent nVidia GPU that doesn't clog up with dust and overheat. Oh and it needs a decent vertical resolution too. Honestly, CPU speed and RAM are near as much inconsequential and I often underclock its 2.1gHz dual core Athlon to 400mHz to stop it overheating and making noise with almost zero appreciable drop in performance.
I really agree with you - except that.. I have another PC. I bought a Lenovo X230 and I'm very happy with it. But the asus was a clear fantastic candidate, with no compromise on quality... But I needed more power and more solid thing. I needed more power than the Asus could give. And the rest is fantactic, really : keyboard, screen, silence...
I'm in loooove with my computer for the first time since the ZX81 and the PET.
So I assume we share the same feeling but for a different computer.
I do agree with ou too that PC are not "master of the Domain" anymore. But i must admit i like to do things with my computer. Not only read, or check my twitter account, or be connected. But also typing, writing, thinking and applying new things...
So my needs are achangin' I even play with the idea of dropping my smartphone - to be less connected.
I completely agree with you. I saw this laptop and immediately though It was a very nice laptop. Very close to Apple quality. Finally!
But since Apple launched retina displays... I know it is not the same price but I you have the money the retina screen is so nice :) Again very nice laptop. I am just hoping for an updated version with a retina-like screen.
The only thing I feel not perfect about these UltraBooks are the size of the SSD inside, which is too small if I decide to run several virtual machines, or run iTunes to manage my media files. How fast is today's external hard disks?
I would never gave up my workstation.
That's why Microsoft might have it right with the 'Surface' tablets (tablet + super thin (optional) keyboards).
When those tablets are running Windows (like your laptop would be) you suddenly have the best of both worlds -- super thin, easy to use one handed (if wanted) but with the additional productivity of a keyboard.
"A trackpad that works kinda-sorta OK"
A laptop without a good trackpad? Then what's the point? I've even switched to a trackpad for my desktop.
I've been a Mac user for a few years now and I'm not turning back. I had to buy my wife a Win laptop some time ago, and finally found one with decent ratings, Toshiba's Portege R830. It turns it doesn't have keyboard lighting. What?! The trackpad has some weird scroll areas at the edges. Please...
It's like you bought a Macbook without actually buying a Macbook. :-)
My 11" Macbook Air is by far the best laptop I have ever had. I love that little thing. I do wish for better battery or screen angles on occasion (which is where the 13" and Asus come in), but not enough to want to pay to upgrade when I can get a tablet with an IPS display and ten hour run time for less than $400.
These days I do all my development on a server anyway, so even on a tablet, a Bluetooth keyboard and a decent SSH client let me get things done. If you can live in a terminal, the post PC future is already here. Tablets are fantastic thin clients.
Any particular reason(s) why you choose the UX31A over the UX32VD (dedicated graphic card, upgradable parts) ?
My main machine is now an ASUS Transformer Prime and I couldn't be happier. I charge it most nights, but even if I forget for two nights in a row the battery is usually good enough. I can't do any dev work on it, but I don't like developing on laptops - I need at least two large monitors to be at all productive. For everything else, the TF201 is a really superb device.
I still have a Dell Adamo 13. The specs are low (1.2GHz Core 2 Duo, 2Gb RAM) and I get about 3.5-4 hours out of it, but thanks to the SSD it's still fairly responsive in everyday use. Weighs about 4lbs.
I'll be very sorry when I finally have to get rid of it, because it's the only machine I've seen yet that's of the same design and build quality as an Apple without being an obvious clone. The design was ahead of its time too - it had DisplayPort long before most other ultraportables.
Retina-esque? Not quite. A retina display is 2560 by 1600. The display you're using is 1920 by 1080. You seem to want a Mac, to be looking for something as close to a Mac as you can get but not being able to get the whole way.
Bought the UX31A (but with 256GB SSD) for use while I'm travelling on vacation. Owned it for the best part of 3 months now.
Wake-from-sleep time on this, assuming I don't have large apps open, is as near to instant matters. It's awake before I can move my hands to the Keyboard type in my password. This is on the base Windows 7 install it shipped with.
In terms of needing to run VMs - it doesn't really have enough RAM to be doing this (4GB, not upgradeable), but an external USB3 HDD would probably work. USB3 is stupidly fast.
The track-pad works quite well for me. My biggest annoyances with the laptop is the crummy/non-existant palm-rejection for the trackpad, and it's multi-touch zoom/pinch detection.
However, these complaints apply equally to a 2011 Macbook Pro 15" too (had one at my previous job).
The second biggest complaint, is the lack of RAM, and it's inability to be upgraded. If I could've put 8 or 16GB in it, I'd have done that. It'd also remove the 5-10 second delays that I get when I've got multiple huge photos open.
Asus UX31E owner since April 2012. While it is a thin, sleek, well built laptop I don't get along with the keyboard, specifically the left Ctrl key. I placed an order for a Lenovo X1 Carbon. I use the ThinkPad UltraNav USB Keyboard on my desktops so I should get along with the X1 Carbon just fine.
So how long have you used it? I had an Asus 1201n, which was kinda something like this but a few years ago. One of the first dual core Atom CPU's, NVIDIA ION which was hot news at the time, 11h battery life etc. The problem was, after a year or so it got hit with overheating issues. So they changed a motherboard and about a year after, they had to do it again. About over a year after that it was overheating again, but I had no warranty any more. Now it barely boots to Linux in text only mode and soon after overheats anyway. I will be selling it for scrap soon. (did you know some recycling places buy individual computer parts for good prices? The one I use buys CPUs for about 200zl/kg, thats a lot!)
As an unabashed Apple user, I've been extremely happy to see the rest of the industry finally getting their act together on this point. Playing catchup they may be, but if Asus and Samsung's latest offerings in the PC market are an indicator, at least some of them have the potential to do it well. (I've missed all the reviews of the Lenovo ultrabooks, but I imagine theirs must be pretty solid as well.)
Only one quibble: that screen is close to Retina density, but it's definitely not a Retina screen (which is more to say: Windows isn't there yet, alas, though Windows 8 does a heck of a lot better at it than Windows 7 does). The resolution "independence" (Apple uses a nice trick, but it's obviously not real independence) is really something else, and when you go beyond just the resolution doubling and add in all the subpixel work that full OSes use, it's... wow. Just, wow. (Also: if you're using it at full resolution, you must have amazing eyes.)
Related: I've been running the rMBP for the last month and one of the real treats is running Windows 7 or 8 in Parallels 8. It is, without question, far and away the best Windows has ever looked. I can't wait till they're actually pushing Retina screens for everyone - you'll never want to go back once they do. I expect Apple will have them in their 13" machines by the end of the year, and in every machine they sell as the only option within the next 5 years. That, in turn, should push the rest of the industry (including Microsoft), and that's going to be really delightful for everyone all around.
One thing I can't figure out? Why it's so hard (outside of Apple) to get machines that are 16x10 instead of 16x9. The latter drives me batty when doing software development - a lot of folks I've known in the last three years have taken to pushing two screens together, but sideways so they have enough vertical space to actually get software work done...
If you get time, I'd love to see an article tracking resolution independence efforts from you in line with some of your other tech spec write-ups.
Why not just get the MacBook Air and run it as a Windows machine? Then you would get the best of hardware with the software you want - a perfect combo.
Dell M1330, perfect, except for its overheating problems :(
Oh hey cool! You're switching to a Macbook Air. Oh, nevermind...
I REALLY want to get one of these ... have looked into the RV model as well, but every time I've touched on of them, I realize that moving away from my beloved Thinkpad keyboard will make my typing productivity take a nosedive ... Or at least that what I think. Have anyone happily taken the switch from a Thinkpad to typing on one of the Asus Zen machines?
And agreed with Chris on the 16:10 vs 16:9 ... that drives me nuts as well. Work laptops should keep the 16:10 or even consider going further back. I can see a future where the coolest thing you log around is not the Asus Zenbook / Macbook Air / Thinkpad X1, but anything with a 4:3 screen looking like the Commodore 64 Breadbox :-)
Would you mind sharing which 8GB DIMM you bought? I'm trying to spec out what the final price would be given your SSD & RAM modifications.
I own a UX31A and while I agree with Jeff about the impressive list of positive features on this machine, there is one significant drawback at least in my experience. The keyboard.
The main issue is that the keys are very unresponsive. They do slide down nicely, but they do not trigger the key event with 100% success. Every key has some dead corners that are more susceptible to this, and if you do any programming, the shift/ctrl -combinations compound the amount of mistakes. A few missed letters may not sound like much but the overall effect of having to second guess your typed input is more draining than you can imagine.
This is a significant issue with the Asus Zenbook series, you can google up plenty of articles and discussion threads that note it. Since the keyboard is THE main interface in using a computer - especially for a tech-oriented audience such as this blog's readership - I urge anyone considering a Zenbook to test write a few paragraphs or a few blocks of code to see whether your typing manners will be compatible with the keyboard.
I think you're too early. That machine is a Windows 7-based design. Many of your complaints will likely disappear over the next 6 to 12 months with Intel SoC designs that will feature an always-on, instant-on behavior (via Connected Standby) that is identical to tablets.
Also, lack of touch is... meh.
Surface Pro FTW. :)
I bought an Asus UL30Vt about two years ago. It claims 12 hours of battery life. I replaced hard drive with an SSD and, working with wifi on, I still get about 11 actual real hours of work with it. I mostly take it to meetings, so I bring it to work on Monday and bring it home Friday. I don't even keep a charger at work.
I don't understand why its battery life is so good, or why no one else seems to have heard of it, but it's a bloody amazing laptop. The hardware is almost three years old, but the specs are still decent: 1.3 GHz Core2 Duo, 4GB RAM, 3.7 pounds, and both an Intel AND Nvidia graphics card.
It really makes you wonder though - why is the battery so mysteriously good on this laptop, and so terrible on the rest? I mean, the UX31 is clearly the UL30Vt's replacement, but the old version still gets almost twice the battery life of the UX31 here.
I've been using the ASUS Ep121 for a year and a half now. Nothing beats it for portability. Why? (1) Same power as the Zenbook Prime. (2) WACOM digitizer pen which, if you haven't used a WACOM, I don't blame you for thinking pen-based computing sucks; it rocks for notes. (3) Bluetooth keyboard is light, slim, NOT chiclet, and OPTIONAL. (4) Really good battery life. (5) Full HDMI video output.
So it is very much a slate and a laptop. The only drawback is that, about once a week, it freezes...but the reboot off the SSD is only 20 seconds, so who cares?
I keep waiting for something to surpass it, but so far, nothing does. My next move will be to install Windows 8 onto it.
I had a good laugh at "useless craplets and pointless bloatware". Isn't that what lots of telco operators are doing to Android? Compare the clean startup experience of the Nexus 7 to any Samsung tablet.
When will the corporates learn that good user experiences = profit?
Nice laptop, now I’m drooling, and I’m thinking about ordering one - does it run Ubuntu or Linux mint 12.x nice anyone?
About keyboards, I’m more convinced now then earlier that i will stay with my laptop - I noticed that my ipad just lies gathering dust. Either I don't need a keyboard, and then I bring my Samsung S3. Or I need a good keyboard - and then I bring my laptop.
> Again very nice laptop. I am just hoping for an updated version with a retina-like screen.
The 1920x1080 13" screen is 166 PPI. That's not quite 200 PPI but it is definitely in the ballpark.
> Any particular reason(s) why you choose the UX31A over the UX32VD
If you read the entire article you would know that I chose both.
> Asus UX31E owner since April 2012. While it is a thin, sleek, well built laptop I don't get along with the keyboard,
> his is a significant issue with the Asus Zenbook series, you can google up plenty of articles and discussion threads that note it
The UX31A has a significantly improved keyboard and trackpad over the older models. I don't recommend the older UX31E models at all.
> Why not just get the MacBook Air and run it as a Windows machine?
It's more expensive, I don't need OS X, the screen is lower resolution and inferior TN, and the keyboard is incompatible with standard PC layouts. YMMV.
> I bought an Asus UL30Vt about two years ago. It claims 12 hours of battery life. I replaced hard drive with an SSD and, working with wifi on, I still get about 11 actual real hours of work with it.
I also owned that one and gave it to my Dad. Great machine, but it is a bit on the heavy side, mostly because it has an absolutely *enormous* battery. Check the capacity on it and you will be shocked -- that's why it gets 10+ hours in real world use.
How can you justify a recommendation for a notebook PC a month before Windows 8 is released with a bunch of new Windows 8-targetted devices?
I don't like compromising at all when it comes to my ultra-portable, Linux on a 2012 11" macbook air blazes & the intel HD4000 video card has no troubles driving my external 1920x1200 24" LCD at the office.
I'm really interested to see where Ubuntu takes its dual boot Android phone project, that may well be the death of the ultra-portable.
It's a Macbook Air with a different screen. Seriously, all this copyright/patent bs is infuriating - but this is a blatant rip off. Tapered aluminium body, the keyboard.. When a company's competitive advantage is design, and that design is copied nearly identically, I'm not surprised at *some* of the lawsuits that come about.
Iphone 5? Ugh... that thing sucks. That is my professional opinion as someone who gets paid to sell them.
Can you let me know where Apple got the exclusive rights to use aluminum and the colour black? Because I'd love to patent purple.
I'm on the same page as you regarding laptops, in many ways. I loved my Dell Inspiron 300M, as well!
Thanks for the info on this Zenbook. I'm going to be shopping for an Ultrabook soon. I love that this has full 1080p HD in a 13.3 inch sized IPS. Fantastic!
Its great to see PC manufacturers finally catching up to Apple in terms of hardware build quality. I recently switched to a MBA 13" --- having formally been a PC guy for 10+ years --- and have loved the hardware, although I spend a lot of time in Windows 8/bootcamp.
However, while these ultrabooks look great, can they match the heretofore unrivaled touchpad and keyboard of the Macbook Air?
A good machine, yes. But with just few £ more from Amazon you get a Macbook Air or Pro, with better resolution, better graphic card, better battery life, more HD space, less weight and using Parallels you can run Windows 8 very fast.
The best choice for everything.
I use that and I'm a .Net developer.
Wonderful to see that some PC makers are finally making decent high end hardware and doing what they should have been doing for the past decade, copying apple's laptops.
It's a shame that they also chose to copy apple's awful, awful laptop chiclet keyboards. And sad that based on Amazon's reviews, has a lot of reliability problems.
I do think it's great that they show that you can build an Apple-like small laptop that maintains expandability.
Rather weird that they insist on including a useless connector, mini-vga. If you're going to need a dongle anyway, why not have a useful connector--support for dual external monitors (as the current Macbook Air does) would be a killer feature for coders.
Come on guys, stop quibbling over price--this is our livelihood. Don't be cheap with your tools of your profession; buy the best and the investment will more than pay off. Frankly, I'd prefer that Asus charge an extra $1000 and get this laptop to be perfect rather than have these cost-cutting flaws.
The great thing about being rich and famous like Jeff is that you can afford to waste your money on hardware that will be irrelevant in 3-6 months.
NO LAPTOP is worth buying right now unless it incorporates a nice workable multitouch display.
If I'm going to drop over a grand into a new mobile workstation, i'm waiting until the second generation Windows 8 models come out.
Then Jeff will buy one and write a post called "REVENGE OF THE LAPTOP". :)
"The great thing about being rich and famous like Jeff is that you can afford to waste your money on hardware that will be irrelevant in 3-6 months.
If youre writing code for a living, paying $1,050 for a laptop is probably foolish cheap decision. Most of us consultants need more horsepower and bigger displays than these specs to work efficiently. I spend almost $2000 on a laptop every 20-24 months and i am far from famous and not too rich
"NO LAPTOP is worth buying right now unless it incorporates a nice workable multitouch display."
^^ I dont get this. I can run my system much faster by memorizing keyboard shortcuts, never touching a mouse. You dont even need a multitouch computer to write and test multitouch apps, in a pinch you can use 2 mice. Very few laptops currently support touchscreen windows leave alone multitouch, and I dont want to get the first gen of that batch :)
Hey! seems just like my wife's Macbook Air.
For me the lack of keyboard is a game breaker. I just can't work without a keyboard, touch screens are still TERRIBLE in terms of responsiveness and general feel. Whenever I'm away from my PC, I'll be sticking to my laptop and good old Nokia with normal keyboard.
My reason for buying a "Mac clone" instead of a Mac would be because I will not, ever, support that awful company (Apple). All they want is to be a monopoly. If they were to open up their platform and allow others to make hardware for their OS, that would be a start. But for now they are far too greedy and careless.
I'd really like one of these, especially at that price, but struggling to find anything like it in the UK - most laptops approaching that spec are more in the £1500 ($2400) range :-(
Hopefully everyone's latest laptop is their "the best PC laptop I've ever owned" laptop! People upgrade to a better one.
I've been thinking about the UX32VD too. How does it physically compare with the UX31A? I can find plenty of UX31A, but never a UX32VD in store to try.
Hey, has anyone else had a problem with the screen on the UX31A? It actually bothered my girlfriend's eyes and gave her headaches. Just wondering if anyone else had similar problems and figured a way around it.
She actually had the same problem with an LED TV until we got one with a higher refresh rate...
And did anyone make any tweaks to the touchpad to make that work better? She hated it so much we actually returned the laptop thinking the touchpad might be broken. We're trying to decide what to replace it with now but the UX31A is still the best looking laptop out there...
Jeff, sorry to say that, but you need to buy a Lenovo X1 Carbon. I was huge fan of my ASUS Zenbook but it never could really step up to my MacBook Air in terms of details and manufacturing qualtiy.
I already thought I couln't get this level of perfection on a PC, but then the X1 Carbon arrived.
YOU REALLY NEED TO BUY THIS ONE!
It is simply a masterpiece of hardware. The keyboard is way better than the one of the MacBook Air and the clickpad is as good as the Apple one. It has a 14'' HD screen at the physical measurements of a MacBook Air. It gives you 8GB of Ram, Core i5 or i7, 256GB SSD and has integrated 3G connectivity...
If you like your Zenbook, you will love the X1 Carbon!
I can run my system much faster by memorizing keyboard shortcuts, never touching a mouse. You dont even need a multitouch computer to write and test multitouch apps, in a pinch you can use 2 mice. Very few laptops currently support touchscreen windows leave alone multitouch, and I dont want to get the first gen of that batch :)
You certainly can GET BY with a non-touch laptop right now. But my point is that most budget-minded laptop power users (who typically buy a new laptop every 3-4 years) would be FOOLISH to buy a new one now, given that we are basically about to enter the windows 8 multi-touch era. Everyone loves to poo-poo the utility of touch on PC's right now, but just wait 1-2 years down the line when there are KILLER touch apps for windows 8 and the second gen laptops come out that really take touch productivity to the next level and here you are stuck with an windows 7 era laptop that you wish had a touch screen.
Yes, it's annoying to have to wait 12-18 more months for the second gen win8 laptops to come out, but if you're gonna make a $2000+ investment, you might as well be smart about it. We can't all have unlimited tech budgets like Mr. Atwood. ;)
I bought the 256GB SSD version of the Zenbook Prime. I have to say I'm loving this machine. The keyboard was easy to get used to. I have fewer wires because of Bluetooth and the USB 3.0 is ridiculous quick.
"You dont even need a multitouch computer to write and test multitouch apps, in a pinch you can use 2 mice."
That is not a serviceable replacement, any more than controlling the mouse cursor via the arrow keys is a serviceable replacement for a mouse.
That's not to say it isn't useful. The precision of a mouse can be very helpful in debugging and testing issues compared to touch.
I also think that, even without being rich, it behooves a developer to have a low-end test machine in addition to their high-end development machine. That can be your multitouch device if you need one, and it can last longer than 24 months since it doesn't really have to keep up with anything other than the minimum system requirements that you care to support.
Still, I sense a great disturbance in the market. As if a many SKUs were being suddenly launched in late October. Even if you don't get a new one or a multitouch one, it's got a good chance of knocking down prices of existing devices.
I have an older ASUS ... (not yours) ... I absolutely hate the sharing of the insert and delete key ... a real pain in the a$$ when using apps like mindmanager or ms project.
"My laptop is increasingly a device I only take when I know I'll need to do a lot of typing"
That's the key point. The main reason to use a notebook is to type something. Or, if you play games, nothing beats a keyboard and a good mouse. By definition, a notebook is a screen and a keyboard. No wonder that if you don't need to type, you don't need a notebook.
Also I don't quite agree with some of the points. Battery life could be better, that's for sure. But as for the startup times, I don't really see what to complain about if using SSDs. At least mine boots in about 10 seconds, isn't it fast enough? The connectivity is not an issue too, I always carry an Android smartphone with me. With sleight of hand it becomes a Wi-Fi hotspot - the problem is solved. One handed operation in a bus or train? I wouldn't be able to sit on StackExchange normally without a decent keyboard anyway.
Some people really don't need a notebook, but the whole post sounds like notebooks are ancient, and no one needs them anymore. But seriously doubt that it's true.
Kind of stupid to have to pay for Windows (which you are such a big fan of) just to hav to wipe as the first thing to do with your new computer. Then I guess you go out and buy another Windows since you probably can't install a clean version. So bundling all this crap you have to pay for 2 Windows licenses just to be able to use the computer. Why throw money at corporations that hates you?
My personal experiance with PCs tell me that you really cannot expect anything good in the "bargin bin"
Most of them are simply chips wrapped in a plastic shell, with no consideration of design and user experiance.
However, if you look above the bargin bin, I find that some PCs are fantastic. I would easily recommend a Fujitsu Lifebook or a Thinkpad, or even a Panasonic Toughbook (if that is your thing)
I have to disagree. I bought an iPad 2 in the spring 11' when it came out. In January or February of 2012 I bought a MacBook Air because I was sick of answering emails with a touch keyboard. Even typing 200 words on the iPad is a pain in the ass.
Besides that I can do real work on the MBA like write a script or remote into my work machine (Windows 7) which no tablet allows. And to the StackOverflow point; it's too much typing to answer a question on a tablet. On top of that, what if I need to actually run some code to make sure it works?
I'm still wondering why even use desktop computers if one eg. has a game console for his entertainment. I know Mr. Atwood is an avid pc gamer - so this seems only explanation for owning a desktop.
If you want long battery life and are running heavy apps directly on the machine, *you're doing it wrong*... Leave the heavy apps on the home (hopefully very large) box and use the ultraportable to remote in. This is how I do all my coding work remotely. With ubiquitous Internet, there's no need to kill battery life by loading up the local CPU and drive. There's also no need to have to maintain multiple install locations of applications. Keep it all on the main PC and use the portable as an interface. I'm getting a solid 9 hours of work time out of my Thinkpad X230 Tablet this way and I don't miss having local apps at all...
Great post, some remarks:
> It hurts battery life by at least an hour, too.
What hurts this much? Does the SSD consume that much more power? Or is it the memory?
> Want to start doing stuff immediately? Even Windows 8, which has radically improved wake times, is laughably slow to start up compared to tablets and phones which are practically instant-on by design.
I recently bought a similar device - a Sony Vaio S 15" - and replaced the disk with a Samsung 830. Sure, not exactly ultraportable, but at <2kg it's still very managable. It boots in 10s (not estimated, but measured power-button-to-responsive-desktop time). I assume the Asus' devices are in the same ballpark.
> Want the smallest most portable device you can get away with? ... Have you seen the iPhone 5 benchmarks?
It's not about the performance though most of the time, but what tasks will you be doing and what software will you be needing. Typing a document or code on a touchscreen is harrowing, even at the size of a tablet. I prefer my laptop in most cases, I only grab my phone if nothing else is withing reach (this happens often, of course), and take my tablet with me only if I know I wouldn't be doing anything serious - ie, playing games on the train, watching youtube, reading an ebook. Tablets are really neat and useful in certain scenarios, but are absolute rubbish in others, no matter how fast they get.
> Want to be always connected to the Internet?
As you stated in an earlier point, you always have your phone with you. And in most cases, that phone can serve as a tethering hotspot. So what ever device you pick, it can piggyback onto the internet with a few clicks.
I owned both the UX31E and the new UX31A. The E version was a good first generation product, however its keyboard annoyed me, the screen was not matte and the charging plug that went into the notebook was fragile.
All this, and more, got fixed for the A version. I sold the old one to a friend at a significant discount.
Most of my life, I have worked as an IT professional in system administration. For a laptop, I want something reliable, portable but also capable for personal use (e.g. Photoshop).
This machine has a dazzling IPS display which outshines everything else on the market in the sub 15,4" class. Viewing angles, color reproduction and resolution is in a class of its own.
The production quality is also top of its class.
I considered waiting for Microsofts Surface, but I have been waiting often for products, that simply do not measure up. Basically, I have been following the mobile PC/MAC computing industry 3-4 times a week for 1 year before I decided - I keep my notebooks 5-6 years or until they break.
In regards to touch, I do not feel, that for the workload I will be using a PC for, that touch is beneficial compared to a touchpad or mouse. I need high precision, lots of data on the screen and when working privately with photos the last thing I want is a dirty screen that I need to wipe all the time - especially if they are horrible glossy screens as we see on most mobile devices.
Maybe I am all wrong, but not even Apple has, as far as I know, any plans of putting touch capability in their laptops - and they pioneered the successful sale of this most notably with the Ipad.
I do not wish to offend anyone, but honestly, we professionals need a lot of detailed information on screen and cannot be handicapped by touch friendly kindergarten application designs. Stuff just keeps getting more and more features along with the complexity that goes along with it. I will be messing with moving virtual machines around in Vsphere, writing scripts, googling and keeping 20 webpages open, 12 remote desktops and lots more. While doing this, I like to lean back, relax and just control everything by moving my fingers 5 cm, or by using keyboard shortcuts.
And, this is a fact. People have to work, and for those people who need their computers the most, they have to be able to do this kind of stuff. Touch is great for angrybirds or children, but for doing real work they are simply nothing more than a stretch. As I see it, it is a great feature and a must for phones and tablets, but touch is no more a must for a notebook than a keyboard is for a phone or tablet.
In regards to portability the Zenbook is awesome. Just like the Macbook Air, it is easy to carry with you on air planes. Brought mine to China a few months back, I felt sorry for the guys lugging around old style Macbook Pros and PC Notebooks. Looks like they came straight out of the 90ies :-) Most sorry I felt for the PC guys, but in regards to ultra portable, this design surpasses Apples Macbook Air on screen resolution, screen type (IPS and Matte), OS (if you prefer Windows) while its design and build quality match it. The touch pad is not as good as Apples, but its close - at least, thats my conclusion after comparing it directly to my friends Macbook Pro. Keyboard is about the same as well, battery life depends on what you do, but I think the Air is a bit ahead there due to OSX (this might change with Windows 8).
Apple, Lenovo, Samsung and Asus - all putting out great models these days. Will this be the last PC I will ever own? No. I will always need a keyboard, good ergonomics, screen, touchpad etc. Maybe I will be running Windows RT in the future, Mac OS or some other fun Unix - but if I do, it will be an improvement over what I have today, and that does not make me sad - instead, it makes me happy and optimistic about the future :-)
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That is quite surprising... I have never heard of that before reading your post!
It makes me quite puzzled and angry too!
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Anyone had a good (or bad) experience with Linux, Ubuntu or Fedora? It seems like a good laptop but it is not cheap if something doesn't work well in Linux.
I agree with pros and cons about Asus ZenBook Prime. Today, there is huge menagerie of ultra books and laptops from various brands. I hope you get the better PC laptop as per your desire at http://www.laptopjoy.com which shares reviews about latest laptops, notebooks and tablets.
To those who are asking for experiences running Ubuntu on this laptop, I can say that the default kernel will probably freeze once a day/week.
Using the latest mainline kernel (3.6.7) completely remedies this.
Ubuntu 12.10 + linux 3.6.7-rc makes this laptop runs for weeks without so much as a snag.
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The move towards the mobile web is in high gear, and soon more people will access the internet (and your website) via a mobile device than with a computer or laptop. Refurbished Macbook Pros
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In regards to portability the Zenbook is awesome. Just like the Macbook Air, it is easy to carry with you on air planes. Brought mine to China a few months back, I felt sorry for the guys lugging around old style Macbook Pros and PC Notebooks. Looks like they came straight out of the 90ies china manufacturing
no more desktops, no more PC's. They want tablets that they can bring with them, that are completely wireless with a touch-screen and a nice bag to carry it in. So yeah, I can see how the PC is disappearing, becoming less and less interesting for the mundanes while the experts still need them. buy facebook fans
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I now own an iPhone 5, several retina iPads, and a Nexus 7. I'm sure there are many more of these devices on the way. In the calculus of deciding what kind of computing device I want with me, even the most awesome ultraportable laptop I can find is no longer enough. Unlock here
I will never give up my Fujitsu Siemens PC for notebook / laptop.
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