Asus Zenbook Hands On: Good Lord There's a Lot of Awesome Packed Into Something This ThinS

It's kind of insane it took a $300 million slush fund from Intel to get notebook makers to create MacBook Air-like ultrabooks, the first results from Asus are, well, pretty damn impressive.

The Asus Zenbook competes against the Acer Aspire S3 and MacBook Air with two flavors—the 13.3-inch UX31 and 11.6-inch UX21—that attempt to combine ultra-thinness factors with real-world performance without sacrificing in either category. And they do a fine job, if you're just mulling over the specs.

The 13.3-inch, aluminum bodied UX31 Zenbook has a 1600 x 900 resolution, packs an Intel Core i5 or Core i7 processor, up to a 256GB SSD and USB 3.0. Additionally, it has a multitouch trackpad, Bang and Olufsen-powered sound and has 4GB RAM. In terms of size, it measures 0.71-inches at its thickest point and weighs 2.86 pounds. The battery is rated to last 7 hours while on, and 10 days in standby mode. Additionally, Asus says their laptop has a two second instant-on time.

Meanwhile, the smaller, 11.6 inch Asus UX21 also has a Core i5 or Core i7 processor, 128GB SSD, and 4GB RAM. It's only 0.35-inches at its thickest point and only weighs 2.43 pounds. The screen has an HD-caliber 1366x768 resolution and a five hour battery life.

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Playing around briefly with the UX21 and 31, they perform well enough, firing up apps and browsing the web with a quickness. And they're both very slim and very light and the large glass trackpad is a joy to use. But it doesn't feel like the sturdiest-designed laptop ever, nor does the keyboard feel totally amazing. The Bang and Olufsen audio definitely sounded like it had some oomph, although it was hard to get a sense of the quality in a large room.

That said, both the UX31 and UX21 Zenbooks will be available starting tomorrow beginning at $1100 and $1000, respectively. [Asus]