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Asus has put the ZenBook portfolio on the map with laptops like the ZenBook Flip S and ZenBook 3 Deluxe. These devices took the company to the higher echelons of the premium segment. The ZenBook 13 UX331UAL is the latest addition to Asus' Zenbook 13 range. This one's a less expensive notebook that offers the feel of a premium ZenBook at a reduced price.
You wouldn't want to call the new ZenBook 13 a speed demon, but it does offer a bright display and quite keyboard which makes it a good alternative. We've spent some time with the Zenbook 13 and you can find all our impressions below.
- Model name: ZenBook 13
- Model serial: UX331UAL
- CPU: 8th Gen Intel Core i "U" series
- Construction: Magnesium aluminum alloy with sandblasted matt finish lid
- RAM: 8GB
- SSD: 256GB SATA3
- Operating System: Windows 10
- Max resolution: 13.3-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080)
- Display type: Matt display
- Graphics: Integrated Intel UHD620
- Dimensions: 310 x 216 x 13.9mm
- Weight: 0.985kg
- Ports: HDMI, USB-C, USB 3.0, micro SD card, and 3.5mm headset jack
- Battery: 50Wh
- Extras: backlit keyboard, VGA webcam, stereo speakers
The first thing you'll notice while holding the device is the lightweight. The new ZenBook is actually slimmer and lighter than the Dell XPS 13. However, it isn't as sturdier as the latter. You can notice some flex in the lid, but it isn't that big of a problem.
The overall build quality is not as solid as its contemporaries. Asus has used metal for the entire casing and smooth finish on the interior which we've seen on the previous iterations. On the inside, the company has used plastic which could be the main reason for the slight flex.
The laptop has a microSD card reader, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a USB 3.0 port on the right side. While the left side houses a USB Type-C port, another USB 3.0 port, and a full-sized HDMI port.
The material chosen to build the laptop was magnesium aluminum alloy that offered the best weight savings with a sandblasted matte finish as opposed to the typical ASUS concentric circle pattern etched onto it.
Overall, the ZenBook 13 is still one of the most compact laptops around. The extra width and length and width make room for the bigger palm rest. It actually manages to place the webcam on the top and still keep the bezels narrow.
The new ZenBook sports a 13.3-inch display surrounded by 6.8mm Asus's NanoEdge bezels. It offers three-panel choices to pick from IPS FHD in a non-touch and a touch version, as well as IPS UHD touch. The panel isn't totally matte compared to previous ZenBooks which reflects extra glare in well-lit surroundings.
The display offers an 80% screen to body ratio with a wide 178° viewing angle - making it convenient for sharing content, and has color accuracy with a 100% coverage of the sRGB color gamut.
The company has used the AU Optronics panel which is capable of producing 275 nits of maximum brightness. Even though the display is FHD (1,920 x 1,080), the pictures produced are sharp with an ample amount of details, while offering a good color reproduction.
Keyboard, Touchpad and Fingerprint sensor
The ZenBook 13 comes with a backlit keyboard that offers different levels of intensity. The chiclet keys offer 1.4mm of travel and is a treat to type on. It is apt for long typing sessions but it takes some time to get the hold of the keyboard.
The touchpad is also smooth and works well with all the gestures. It has a smooth glass-fiber coated surface and supports Windows 10's multi-touch and multi-gesture input with up to 4-finger gestures, making it easy to switch applications or screens. You might end up zooming features while scrolling Google Chrome with two fingers. It might take you some days to perform these gestures with finesse.
Finally, Asus has relocated the fingerprint sensor to the right side of the palm rest. Earlier it was a part of the touchpad which of course wasn't appreciated by many. It made the use of gestures uneasy. The new placement of the sensor is convenient and is also very accurate.
For two weeks, we put the ZenBook 13 to the test as our daily driver. There was extensive use of Chrome browser, multimedia, mild gaming, and long typing sessions. Initially, the machine took off slow, but as it warmed up, there wasn't any sign of sluggishness. The work involved the use of Chrome browsers, multiple windows, but switching between them was smooth and we didn't notice any hiccups during the process.
We played mild games on the device and it managed to perform well, with a few lags during the process. But you shouldn't high-end gaming from this laptop, as it might not be able to deliver the performance one would expect.
The audio system of the ZenBook 13 UX331UAL was tuned by experts from ASUS own "Golden Ears" audio team and certified by the audio technology company, Harman/Kardon. But as we know, small laptops aren't the best audio alternative, so is the case with the ZenBook 13. The laptop has a downward-firing speaker which makes the sound output muffled when sitting flat on a desk.
Speaking of the battery life, it's basically the best part of this laptop. After using the device for quite some time, we can say that the battery backup is enough to keep the laptop running for a whole day without seeking a charger. We managed to use the device for at least 6 and a half hours after a single charge.
Overall, the ZenBook 13 UX331UAL is an impressive laptop that comes at a competitive price of Rs 66,990. It is powerful enough to perform your everyday tasks and a few high-end tasks occasionally.
It has a good overall performance, and typing on the keyboard is a treat. You might have to make a compromise when it comes to the audio performance and the webcam. But, when it comes to being an overall package, the ZenBook 13 is a good choice.
You might find lower priced compact laptops such as the Lenovo Yoga 720, but you will have to give up on the good display and te backlit keyboard. For higher-end applications, you can opt for the Dell XPS 13, but for that, you'll have to shell out more money. This makes the Asus ZenBook 13 a fit for its budget with decent specs and performance.
As they say 'applause doesn't come without caveats,' you will have to compromise on few things. but, if you look beyond the flaws of the device, it is definitely one of the best ultrabooks available in the market.