Zenbook

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Zenbook
Asus x21 ultrabook.jpg
A first generation UX21
Developer Asus
Type Ultrabook
Operating system Windows
Website zenbook.asus.com

Zenbooks are a family of ultrabooks – low-bulk laptop computers – produced by Asus. The first Zenbooks were released in October 2011, and the original range of products was amended and expanded during 2012. Models range from 12-inch laptops, featuring power efficient components but lacking connectivity and having only integrated graphics processors, to 15-inch laptops with discrete graphics processing units and optical disc drives. Most (though not all) Zenbooks use Intel Core ultra-low-voltage processors and Nvidia GPUs when integrated graphics are not used. Asus introduced new models with touch screens to take advantage of Windows 8 after its release in late 2012. Most models drew comparisons to the Macbook Air. The most recent release in the Zenbook line is the upmarket Zenbook Infinity UX301 series. [1]

Asus designed the Zenbooks with brushed aluminium chassis and high rigidity, rather than plastic, the usual laptop construction material. A pattern of concentric circles on the lids is said to represent ripples in water and represent the "zen philosophy" that designers wanted to portray when creating the laptops. Zenbooks have been generally well received due to their chassis design and appearance as well as the high quality screens used in later models. However, the touchpad software was found to be erratic, particularly on the early models and some of the models received criticism for their high prices.

Design[edit]

The concentric circles on the lid of a Zenbook are said to represent ripples in water.

In 2009 Asus released the UX50V, a 15 inch laptop that was focused on energy efficiency and had a thin profile.[2] The laptop was rated poorly by reviewers as it under-performed and had mediocre battery life, despite the installed energy efficient hardware.[3] Although not branded as one, it bore the same "UX" product code as many of the later Zenbooks and was an early foray into the ultraportable market.

The Zenbook name was proposed by Asus chairman Jonney Shih to reflect the "zen philosophy" applied to the design.[4] The chief designer, Loewy Chen, had wanted to incorporate design elements from luxury watches into his products for a long time. Zenbooks were the first opportunity to put this into practice,[4] the crossover being achieved, he said, by "the unfolding of the laptop from the side recalling the elegance of minute and hour hand movements".[5] The reference to watches is also reflected in the marketing of Zenbooks; Asus published design sketches overlaying an open Zenbook on a watch face, and video advertisements feature similar imagery.[6][7] The concentric circles on the lid of Zenbooks were intended to look like ripples in water and to reflect "philosophical ideas such as the infinite nature of Zen thinking and self-improvement".[4][5]

The bodies of the Zenbooks are made of aluminium, chosen for its light weight, strength, vibration dampening, appearance and acoustic properties.[4] Both the bodies and lids are CNC milled and brushed for appearance.[4] Reviewers have noted the resulting superior rigidity and complimented the appearance of the Zenbook range.[8][9][10] The lid is available in three colours: dark silver/purple (pictured), rose gold and hot pink.[4]

To preserve space, Zenbooks use two PCBs connected by a communications ribbon so it can have ports on both sides of the device, with a heatsink and fan centred between them.[11][12]

Product range[edit]

First generation[edit]

A UX31E with its accessories laid out

The first generation of Zenbooks was announced on October 11, 2011, one day before release, although they were first demonstrated at Computex 2011 in May that year.[13] Two models were released in 2011 to positive reviews: the 11 inch UX21E and the 13 inch UX31E, also frequently known as the UX21 and UX31 respectively. The design of the UX21 drew comparisons to the Macbook Air and it was regarded as an "excellent rival" by CNET reviewer Andrew Hoyle.[9][10] Other aspects of the laptops that reviewers liked were the Bang and Olufsen speakers, fast boot times due to Asus' BIOS design and the speed of general tasks within the operating system resulting from the SSD and Sandy Bridge processors.[8][10][14] However, the screens drew criticism for their poor contrast ratio, colour accuracy and less than perfect viewing angle, although they were praised for their brightness and the sharpness of the UX31's screen.[8][15][16] Reviewers also noted the shallow key-press of the metal keyboard and lack of backlighting, a feature that Asus did not have time to implement before shipping.[8][17]

Zenbook Prime[edit]

The UX31A keyboard is backlit and has greater key travel than the first generation

In April 2012 Asus revealed a revision of the two original Zenbooks, this time based on the Ivy Bridge microarchitecture.[18] The model numbers were UX21A and UX31A for the 11 and 13 inch models respectively but are more frequently referred to as Zenbook Primes.[18] Changes made to the original included the aforementioned update to Ivy Bridge processors and the introduction of the corresponding HM76 chipset bringing native USB 3.0, 1920 × 1080 IPS displays for both models, an Intel Centrino Wi-Fi controller, an improved trackpad and new plastic keyboard with backlighting.[19] The new screens were highly praised by reviewers when considering brightness, contrast ratio, viewing angle and colour accuracy, the improvements over previous models being put down to the switch from TN to IPS displays.[17][19][20] The UX21A has contrast ratio of 939 and the UX31A achieved 1085, giving it the highest resolution and contrast ratio of any ultrabook at the time of release.[20][21] The improved keyboard also garnered praise for the increased backlighting and improved key travel while the Intel Wi-Fi controller was found to perform better than the Qualcomm used in the first generation of Zenbooks.[19][20][22] The Zenbook Primes still received some criticism: the latest version of the trackpad was acknowledged as an improvement over the original Zenbooks, but still irritating,[23][24] and the sound quality was found to be worse than that with the first generation.[22][24] Despite these issues, the overall reaction was positive: the UX31A was called "today's best ultrabook" and "the best ultrabook out there" at the time of release.[25][26]

UX32 series[edit]

As early as March 2012, information was leaked hinting at a new series of Zenbooks and in early May Asus revealed the UX32 series, followed by their release on May 21.[27][28] Two models were announced: the UX32A and the UX32VD, both including a thicker chassis to accommodate a 500 GB/24 GB flash hybrid drive and in the UX32VD an Nvidia Geforce GT 620M.[28] The UX32A was designed to be a cheaper Zenbook with a previous generation Sandy Bridge processor option,[note 1] lower resolution screen and hybrid drive.[27]

The UX32VD was well received for similar reasons to the Zenbook Prime. The screen, chassis and keyboard again garnered praise although the inclusion of a discrete GPU was noted as a major selling point.[29][30][31] The hybrid drive attracted criticism for its slow performance and the same trackpad issues that the Zenbook Prime had were still present.[29][30][31] The UX32 models have a 4% smaller battery than the Zenbook Prime and the discrete GPU of the UX32VD consumes more power than the integrated GPUs of other Zenbooks; and the shorter battery life was also a detraction.[29][32] SLR Lounge criticised the slow hybrid drive and 4 GB of RAM, but suggested replacing them as the option is available, noting that it was an option not often offered on ultrabooks.[33]

As a cheaper option the UX32A was praised by Chris Martin of PC Advisor for being "a more affordable luxury", retaining the "premium feel" of the Zenbook range but at a lower price point.[34][35] The aluminium chassis, which is identical to the UX32VD to keep costs down, was widely acclaimed for its strength and build quality. [34][35][36][37][38] By contrast, the Sandy Bridge chip, a previous-generation part at the time of sale, was outlined as a detraction as was the lower battery life compared to the UX31E.[35][37] Although the screen used was a TN panel and of a lower resolution than the UX32VD or UX31A, it was considered an acceptable compromise for the price.[35][36] The screen has a matte finish and relatively high brightness which Notebook Check's reviewer, Christian Hepp, found "quite suitable for outdoor use", noting that it had a good contrast ratio but a narrow range of colours.[38]

14 and 15 inch Zenbooks[edit]

On October 23, 2012, Asus hosted a launch event for Windows 8, where it revealed UX42VS and UX52VS models to be released in November.[39][40] The UX42VS is a 14 inch ultrabook and the UX52VS is a 15 inch laptop, which may qualify as an ultrabook depending on the options chosen.[note 1][40] The UX42VS is available with an Intel Core i3, i5 or i7 processor with up to 6 GB of RAM. In total, it weighs approximately 1.9 kg (4.2 lb).[40]

The UX52VS has the option of Intel's ultra-low voltage i5 or i7 mobile processors, up to 10 GB of RAM and an optical disc drive. The latter is a first for the Zenbook product series.[41] It drew criticism for its high price and lack of touch screen, but the screen quality, keyboard and system speed were praised.[42][43] The battery life was considered acceptable taking into account the form-factor and the discrete GPU, despite it being significantly shorter than the UX31A.[43]

Zenbook Touch[edit]

First displayed in June 2012 at Computex, the Zenbook Touch series has touch screens to take advantage of the Windows 8 operating system.[44] The Zenbook Touch series includes the UX31A which is the same as the Zenbook Prime, but with a touch enabled screen, and the U500VZ, a 15 inch model.[44][45] A UX21A with a touch enabled screen was also demonstrated at Computex in June and officially announced in late August, though at the launch event on October 23, 2012, only the UX31A and the U500VZ were displayed.[44][46][47] The U500VZ is thicker than previous Zenbooks at 20 mm (0.79") and uses a standard Ivy Bridge mobile processor rather than the ultra-low voltage CPUs used in other Zenbooks, thus technically pushing it out of the ultrabook category, although it still meets other ultrabook specifications.[note 1][45][48] AnandTech reviewer Jason Inofuentes found the touch screen to be so superior to the trackpad that he stopped using the trackpad altogether in his trial of a Zenbook Touch at the Asus launch event.[49] Chris Griffith of The Australian found that the screen of the UX31A responded well and that the Windows 8 gestures worked predictably, his only criticism being the high price.[50]

Zenbook Infinity[edit]

First displayed at Computex in 2013, the Zenbook Infinity has a Gorilla Glass body; a mobile Haswell CPU (i5 or i7); at least 8GB of RAM; and a 13.3-inch touchscreen with a maximum resolution of 2560x1440. In place of the single SSD used in previous Zenbook are two SSDs in a RAID 0 configuration.

Specifications[edit]

Table of models
Model UX21E[51] UX31E[52] UX21A[53] UX31A[54] UX32A[55] UX32VD[56] UX42VS[57] UX52VS[41] U500VZ[45] UX301LA NX500
Release date October 12, 2011[58] June 2012[59] May 21, 2012[60] May 21, 2012[61] November 2012 November 2012 TBA November 2013 TBA
Display
Matte
29.5 cm (11.6") TN 1366 × 768 33.8 cm (13.3") TN 1600 × 900 29.5 cm (11.6") TN 1366 × 768
29.5 cm (11.6") IPS 1920 × 1080
33.8 cm (13.3") TN 1600 × 900
33.8 cm (13.3") IPS 1920 × 1080
33.8 cm (13.3") TN 1366 × 768 33.8 cm (13.3") TN 1366 × 768
33.8 cm (13.3") IPS 1920 × 1080
35.6 cm (14.0") TN 1366 × 768 39.6 cm (15.6") IPS 1920 × 1080 33.8 cm (13.3") IPS 2560 × 1440 39.6 cm (15.6") IPS 3840 × 2160
Processor Intel Core i3-2367
Intel Core i5-2467M
Intel Core i7-2677M
Intel Core i5-2557M
Intel Core i5-2557M
Intel Core i7-2677M
Intel Core i5-3317U
Intel Core i7-3517U
Intel Core i5-3317U
Intel Core i7-3517U

Intel Core i7-3537U

Intel Core i3-2367M
Intel Core i5-3317U
Intel Core i7-3517U Intel Core i3-3217U
Intel Core i5-3317U
Intel Core i7-3517U
Intel Core i5-3317U
Intel Core i7-3517U
Intel Core i7-3610QM
Intel Core i7-3612QM Intel Core i7-4558U
Intel Core i7-4500U
Intel Core i5-4200U
Intel Core i7
Graphics adapter Intel HD Graphics 3000 Intel HD Graphics 4000 Intel HD Graphics 3000
Intel HD Graphics 4000
Nvidia GeForce GT 620M Intel HD Graphics 4000
Nvidia GeForce GT 645M
Nvidia GeForce GT 645M Nvidia GeForce GT 650M Intel HD Graphics 4400, or Iris Graphics 5100 Nvidia GeForce GTX 850M
Memory 4 GB 1333 MHz DDR3 Soldered 4 GB 1600 MHz DDR3 Soldered 4 GB 1600 MHz DDR3 Expandable 6 GB 1600 MHz DDR3 Expandable 4–10 GB 1600 MHz DDR3 4 GB 1600 MHz DDR3 8 GB 1600 MHz DDR3L 4/8 GB 1600 MHz DDR3L
Secondary storage 64/128/256 GB SATA III SSD 128/256GB SATA III SSD 500 GB hybrid drive with 24 GB SSD/256 GB SSD 320/500/750/1000 GB HDD 320/500/750 GB hybrid drive with 24/32 GB SSD Up to 512 GB SATA III SSD 2x128gb or 2x256gb SSD in RAID 0 configuration 128/256/512 GB SSD
Wireless
802.11 b/g/n Wifi and Bluetooth 4.0 802.11 a/b/g/n Wifi and Bluetooth 4.0 802.11 b/g/n Wifi and Bluetooth 4.0 802.11 a/b/g/n Wifi and Bluetooth 4.0 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wifi and Bluetooth 4.0 TBA
Battery 6 Cell, 4800 mAh, 35 Wh 4 Cell, 6840 mAh, 50 Wh 6 Cell, 4800 mAh, 35 Wh 4 Cell, 6840 mAh, 50 Wh 6 Cell, 6520 mAh, 48 Wh 4 Cell, 6140 mAh, 45 Wh 8 Cell, 4750 mAh, 70 Wh [62] 6 Cell, 50.6 Wh 6 Cell, 96 Wh
Unit weight 1.1 kg (2.42 lb) 1.3 kg (2.87 lb) 1.1 kg (2.42 lb) 1.3 kg (2.87 lb) 1.45 kg (3.20 lb) 1.45 kg (3.20 lb) 1.88 kg (4.15 lb) 2.2 kg (4.94 lb) 2.0 kg (4.4 lb) 1.4 kg 2.2 kg (4.94 lb)
Dimensions
Width × Height × Thickness (closed, at thickest point)
299 mm × 196 mm × 17 mm (11.8" × 7.7" × 0.67") 325 mm × 223 mm × 17 mm (12.8" × 8.8" × 0.67") 299 mm × 196 mm × 17 mm (11.8" × 7.7" × 0.67") 325 mm × 223 mm × 17 mm (12.8" × 8.8" × 0.67") 325 mm × 223 mm × 18 mm (12.8" × 8.8" × 0.71") 325 mm × 223 mm × 18 mm (12.8" × 8.8" × 0.71") 340 mm × 239 mm × 21 mm (13.4" × 9.4" × 0.83") 380 mm × 254.5 mm × 21 mm (14.96" × 10.0" × 0.83") 380 mm × 254.5 mm × 20 mm (14.96" × 10.0" × 0.79") 325 mm x 226 mm x 15.5 mm (12.8" x 8.9" x 0.62") 378 mm x 255 mm x 19 mm (14.88" x 10.0" x 0.75")
Peripheral connections 1 × 3.5 mm audio in/out jack
1 × USB 3.0 port
1 × USB 2.0 port
1 × micro HDMI
1 × mini VGA
SD card slot (UX31E only)
1 × 3.5 mm audio in/out jack
2 × USB 3.0 ports
1 × micro HDMI
1 × mini VGA
SD card slot (UX31A only)
1 × 3.5 mm audio in/out jack
3 × USB 3.0 ports
1 × HDMI
1 × mini VGA
SD card slot
1 × 3.5 mm audio in/out jack
2 × USB 3.0 port
1 × micro HDMI
1 × mini VGA
SD card slot
1 × RJ45 LAN port
1 × 3.5 mm audio in/out jack
3 × USB 3.0 ports
1 × HDMI
1 × mini VGA
SD card slot
1 × RJ45 LAN port
1 × 3.5 mm audio in/out jack
3 × USB 3.0 port
1 × HDMI
1 × external subwoofer connector
1 × mini VGA
SD card slot
1 × RJ45 LAN port
1 × 3.5 mm audio in/out jack
2 × USB 3.0 port
1 × micro HDMI
SDXC card slot
TBA

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c If equipped with an standard mobile processor then the laptop fails the ultrabook requirement of using an Intel Core ultra-low-voltage processor

References[edit]

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External links[edit]