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Asus Zenbook UX301LA

Asus Zenbook UX301LA Review – Most thin, lightweight laptops have lids made of metal that are grey or black, but the Asus Zenbook UX301LA is strikingly different. Its lid is made out of glass and features a dark blue concentric-circle design underneath. And there’s no need to worry that it might shatter at the first sign of an impact; it survived intact after we’d clumsily dropped it onto a wooden floor.

Asus Zenbook UX301LA. A laptop that’s very stylish, but also very expensive

If you’re still worried, a carry sleeve is included. The rest of the laptop – constructed as it is from rigid metal – is equally well made. Despite this sturdiness, it’s very lightweight at just 1.5kg, rising to 1.7kg with its charger. Battery life was good at just over 11 hours, though we’ve seen other laptops last even longer. There are two reasons for the UX301LA’s long battery life. One is its power-efficient Intel Core i7 4500U dual-core processor, which, in tandem with 8GB of memory, provides the UX301LA with enough muscle for use as your main computer.

Asus-Zenbook-UX301LA Asus Zenbook UX301LA

Asus Zenbook UX301LA

The other reason is the 256GB SSD (solid-state drive), which is no slouch when it comes to starting up the laptop, resuming from sleep and launching programs. The UX301LA is only the third laptop we’ve seen to have 802.11ac built in. It’s a feature well worth having if you have very fast broadband or transfer lots of files over your local network. If you want to connect the laptop to a display then you’ll almost certainly need to buy an adapter – as the mini DisplayPort and micro HDMI ports here are still fairly uncommon connections. Although the 13in screen isn’t bad, it’s hardly exceptional. Colour accuracy is merely average, which is disappointing for a laptop at this price. It’s also not as bright as other laptop screens, which is noticeable when brightness is reduced by 50 per cent to conserve battery life. The screen is touch-sensitive, but you’re unlikely to use it often, because – as we often point out – prodding an upright touchscreen for lengthy periods of time is a recipe for arm ache. Thankfully, the keyboard and touchpad are excellent.

The large keys have plenty of feedback and travel, while the touchpad is accurate and very responsive. Windows 8’s touchscreen gestures are replicated on the touchpad, so there’s even less need to use the touchscreen. The Asus Zenbook Prime UX301LA is a good laptop with long battery life, sturdy construction and good looks. However, at £1399 it’s overpriced. The equivalent Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 is £150 cheaper, yet has a longer battery life and a far brighter screen with superior image quality and a higher resolution. Unless the UX301LA drops in price substantially, the MacBook Pro is better value if you want a powerful ultra-portable laptop.

Asus Zenbook UX301LA Specifications

  • 1.8GHz Intel Core i7 4500U dual-core processor
  • 8GB memory
  • 256GB SSD
  • Intel HD 4400 integrated graphics
  • 13.3in 1920×1080-pixel screen
  • 802.11ac/b/g/n
  • Windows 8.1
  • 1.5kg weight (1.7kg with charger)
  • 16x325x226mm (HxWxD)
  • One-year warranty

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