Intel’s thin-and-light Ultrabook concept has been gathering steam over the past few months, with a host of players looking to take on Apple’s hugely popular MacBook Air. Proudly leading the charge is Asus with its 13in Zenbook UX31E. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and this little laptop looks startlingly familiar.
From the design of the box to the hardware itself, it seems Asus has been taking notes from Apple, but the Zenbook is still strikingly attractive in its own right – it isn’t only pretty by Ultrabook standards, it ranks among the prettiest laptops to sport a Windows sticker. Concentric circles shimmer across the dark-grey lid, the brushed-metal finish softening to a lighter grey on the base, and the combination of sharp angles and smooth curves makes for a beautiful design.
Measuring mere millimeters-thick at its front edge and tapering to a delicate 17mm at the rear, the Zenbook weighs only 1.4kg. That’s nowhere near light enough to trouble Sony’s flagship VAIO Z Series – that pricey ultraportable weighs only 1.15kg – but where many thin laptops sacrifice durability, the Zenbook feels unyieldingly stout. It’s far sturdier in the hand than either the Sony or Samsung’s Series 9 – so much so, you’re likely to pull a muscle before you eke any flex from the rock-solid base.