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::>Laptops and tablets > 2014 > 05 > ASUS ZENBOOK UX301LA

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Republish review

09-05-2014


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ASUS ZENBOOK UX301LA Ultrabook review

Since the time of official presentation of ultra-compact laptop named "ultrabook", one of the most memorable was ZENBOOK line of the Taiwanese manufacturer ASUS. It offers high quality devices with a stylish aluminum case. At the same time these devices offer enough performance with good off-line operation period. In fact, ASUS ZENBOOK line became one of the main competitors for laptops of Apple MacBook Air.

ASUS ZENBOOK UX301LA

Currently ASUS ZENBOOK line has grown to its fourth generation and obtained a subtitle ASUS ZENBOOK Infinity. Update has brought a number of important visual changes. The design instead of aluminum has tempered glass.

The specs:

Producer

ASUS

Model

ZENBOOK UX301LA

CPU

Intel Core i5-4200U: 2 cores, 4 threads, 1600 MHz (up to 2600 MHz for Turbo Boost 2.0 mode), DMI2 – 5 GT/s, L3 cache memory – 3 MB

Chipset

Intel HM87 Express (Intel Lynx Point-LP)

RAM

8 GB DDR3L-1600 MHZ, dual channel ELPIDA J8416E6MB-GNL-F (8 chips are soldered on the  board)

Display

BOEhydis HN133WU3-102: IPS, 13,3", 1920 x 1080 (165 ppi), touch (up to 10 touches 10), protective Corning Gorilla Glass 3

Graphics adapter

Intel HD Graphics 4400: 200 MHz (up to 1000 MHz for Turbo Boost 2.0 mode); video memory capacity is 2 GB (extracted from RAM)

Drives

SanDisk X110 (SD6SP1M-128G-1002): 128 GB, mSATA 6 GB/s

Optical drive

Card reader

SDHC / SDXC

Expansions slots

Interfaces

1 x Mini DisplayPort

1 x micro-HDMI

2 x USB 3.0

1 x combined audio socket

1 x power socket

Multimedia

Speaker

Stereo speakers Bang & Olufsen ICEpower

Sound processing

SonicMaster + Waves MAXXAUDIO Master

Audio adapter

Realtek ALC282

Microphone

Stereo

Webcam

1 MP (720p)

Communication

Network adapter

external – up to 5 MB/s

Wi-Fi

802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2,4/5 GHz) (Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260)

Bluetooth

V4.0 (Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260)

WWAN

Security

Loading password for BIOS and SSD

Battery

lithium-pol, 6-elements, nonremovable: 10,8 V, 5460 mА·h, 50,6 W·h

PSU

Output parameters: 19 V DC, 2,37 А, 45 W

Input parameters: 100~240 V AC at 50/60 Hz

Прочее

Aluminum framework; glass panels on internal and external sides of display blocks; keyboard with LED highlighting

Color

White/silvery

Dimensions

325 x 226 x 15,5 mm

Weight

1,4 kg

OS

Windows 8 Core/Pro

Warranty

12 months

Producer website

ASUSTeK Computer Inc.

Packaging and content

ASUS ZENBOOK UX301LA

The device is supplied in relatively large deep black box. It is made of cardboard with matt and little velvet coating and has quite mysterious appearance. On the lid you will find the inscription “ASUS ZENBOOK”.

ASUS ZENBOOK UX301LA

Set of delivery ahs several useful items. In addition to the main unit and paper documents the following items can be can be found:

  • compact power unit with long nonremovable network cable which has the ring power LED indicator;
  • branded leather case;
  • napkin to wipe the glass panels;
  • two special adapters (USB 3.0 → RJ45 (Ethernet), Mini DisplayPort → D-Sub (VGA)) and a small leather case.

ASUS ZENBOOK UX301LA ASUS ZENBOOK UX301LA

Corporate case is made of qualitative white leatherette with a little non-standard longitudinal texture. It is decorated in an envelope for letters. The inner part is gray soft velours fabric. Case edges are threaded while the upper part is equipped with a magnetic holder.

Design

ASUS ZENBOOK UX301LA

The contour of ASUS ZENBOOK UX301LA was inherited from its predecessors. It has wedge-shaped profile, highly durable aluminum frame and corporate concentric pattern on the lid. The new generation had additional several large sheets of tempered Corning Gorilla Glass 3 which cover the outer and inner part of the display unit, as well as almost the entire working area except the base of the keyboard unit (it is aluminum part of the frame).

The usage of tempered glass for the design is not something innovative because this design idea was met in leader devices of Acer and HP, namely models Acer Aspire S7 and HP Spectre. But the models of ASUS ZENBOOK Infinity line have glasses of bigger dimensions and they are available in two colors: white and dark blue with mat covering and reminds the aluminum.

ASUS ZENBOOK UX301LA

In general, this ultrabook design is very graceful and elegant. It is perceived as a “crystal” interior decoration. However, you should not forget that the glass panels are more subjected to the external factors and much easier to be broken, for example, in the case of a fall even from a small height. Of course, special shock-absorbing inserts between glass and aluminum boards can cushion the impact. ASUS ZENBOOK UX301LA requires special attention during the work.

ASUS ZENBOOK UX301LA

The frame (base and display blocks) is made of a sufficiently thick aluminum and only removable lid that allows to get access to the internal components is plastic. To prevent contact between the internal glass panels the contour of display has a rubberized pad. Bottom part of the base is flat and smoothly thins which makes ultrabook visually more think but at the same time more comfortable for your hands during transportation. However, the set of interface connectors is located back part of the case.

ASUS ZENBOOK UX301LA

ASUS ZENBOOK UX301LA

The display unit has a chrome rim contour, which at back part is characterized of the Г-shaped projection with a pair of small plastic legs. Due to this it acts as a support that lifts the base of the case for more efficient fresh air entrapment by cooling system. The disadvantage of this solution is that the ultrabook is much worse “clings” on the surface since from four rubber legs only two are partially. It is very easy to drop the device from the table for example accidentally strike against the cable and this will cause the damage of glass panels.

ASUS ZENBOOK UX301LA

There are two loops of display unit. They are very tight, but it is not a problem to open the ASUS ZENBOOK UX301LA using one hand. In addition they provide a good degree of position fixation. The maximum opening angle is 145°.

ASUS ZENBOOK UX301LA

Despite the rather large number of separate elements the build quality is excellent: all perfectly matched to each other; glass panels are glued firmly and uniformly; plastic lid of the base also is placed perfectly. The edges of the case are well processed: they are not sharp and there are no any bevels. In general, there are no gaps or any other structural defects.

Case rigidity is also high due to the aluminum frame. However, the glass panels also provide rigidity though they are quite fragile. ASUS ZENBOOK UX301LA very perfectly resists to torsion and pressure. As for the display unit, it is sufficient rigid but it comes under a noticeable bend when subjected to angular sections. It is better not to open the device by sharp movement.

Elements layout

Due to the nature of case construction the product has only the most necessary interface connectors. Some of them are presented in the form of complete adapters: USB 3.0 → RJ45 (Ethernet) and Mini DisplayPort → D-Sub (VGA).

Precisely in the center of outside of the display unit there is a relatively large and chrome-plated logo of the manufacturer, which in active mode is illuminated by soft white color. Its brightness depends on the level of display brightness level.

ASUS ZENBOOK UX301LA

ASUS ZENBOOK UX301LA

The front and back side of the device does not have any elements except a metal mesh under the display unit. It can be seen only in the open state of ultrabook where it covers the vent hole for air blowing.

ASUS ZENBOOK UX301LA

ASUS ZENBOOK UX301LA

The left side is designed for a combined audio mini-jack 3,5 mm, micro-HDMI port, USB 3.0 interface and power connector while on the right side there is a card reader of half-format (installed memory cards limit the case frame on a half) as well as USB 3.0 and Mini DisplayPort.

ASUS ZENBOOK UX301LA

To get the inside components of ASUS ZENBOOK UX301LA is not difficult: the only you need to unscrew 10 small Torx screws + two standard cross-point screws hidden under up rubber legs and carefully remove the entire bottom panel. But it is important to clarify that the effect of such action would be a loss of official warranty. In any case, the user obtains the access to dual cooling system, three PCIe connectors (two full-size for SSD-drives of mSATA format and one half-size module for wireless networks) and the battery. Replace or expand the memory will not be possible because it is soldered directly on the system board.

Input device

ASUS ZENBOOK UX301LA

Central part of the “crystal” operating panel is designed for standard keyboard without separated system keys. In the observed model it is presented as Japanese keyboard layout. It differs by the presence of several additional keys near to [Space], [Backspace], right [Shift] and [Enter]. The last key is short and double-level. The most important omission is the placement of power buttons into the main unit and near to frequently used keys as [Del] and [Backspace]. Accidentally turn off the ultrabook (or put in sleep mode) is not difficult, especially when touch typing.

The keyboard unit is slightly seated into the case. It has very good fixation over the entire area and punching even at high pressure is absent. A keyboard in a white version of ASUS ZENBOOK UX301LA is not the best choice for symbol reading due to a gray layout (including at the specific lightning level). For example such keyboard layout is not used by ASUS ZENBOOK lineup.

ASUS ZENBOOK UX301LA

Keys are based on traditional for laptops “scissor” response that enable a short gap, as well as the perceived good and pleasant tactile response. Dimensions of main lettered keys are quite large (15x15 mm, 12x8 mm in key of digital block and block arrows).

ASUS ZENBOOK UX301LA

An important feature of keyboard unit is the presence of LED highlight. It is very bright and its level is adjustable between three values (in idle mode the backlight automatically turns off). Unfortunately, its uniformity is not enough which can be seen at an angle. Lock-indicators are integrated directly into the appropriate keys.

ASUS ZENBOOK UX301LA

Touchpad or click (due to the presence of one button under it) has not only large dimensions (105x70 mm) but is presented in the form of a glass panel. Due to this feature the borders of touchpad are greatly felt.

ASUS ZENBOOK UX301LA

In addition to standard actions there is a support of several multi touch gestures activated by application ASUS Smart Gesture.

Display

ASUS ZENBOOK UX301LA

Due to “frameless” structure of Display ASUS ZENBOOK UX301LA the design is unusual and its 13.3’’diagonal visually is perceived as bigger. However, there is a small frame which is presented in the form of a thin rubber edge that prevents the interaction between protective glass with work panel. The basis of display is quite good IPS-matrix with a resolution of 1920x1080 pixels (165 ppi) and support of touch-input (up to 10 simultaneous touches). The channel is covered with tempered glass Corning Gorilla Glass 3 which has effective anti-glare filter and wonderful oleophobic cover. Also it is important to note that ASUS ZENBOOK UX301LA is available in a version with a more clear screen with resolution is 2560x1440 pixels (220 ppi).

This model has BOEhydis HN133WU3-102 matrix with maximum viewing angles: when looking at an acute angle color is not discolored and the black color does not acquire a purple hue which is a feature of many IPS-matrix. The maximum compatibility of the white area according our measurements (X-Rite i1Display Pro calibrator was used) is 217 cd/m2 and black 0,207 cd/m2 which is pretty good value and gives final static contrast 1052:1. Of course, the maximum brightness of the screen does not seem very high, but it is enough for ultrabook operation in a sunny weather.

ASUS ZENBOOK UX301LA ASUS ZENBOOK UX301LA

Graphs of color gamut: left – before calibration and right – after calibration

The color gamut of the display corresponds to the sRGB color space on 85.9%, and Adobe RGB on 62.8%. Let’s remind that good results can be considered a value greater than 90% and 65% respectively. Such values were achieved after calibration: sRGB color gamut was increased up to 90.3%, and Adobe RGB up to 66.2%.

ASUS ZENBOOK UX301LA ASUS ZENBOOK UX301LA

ASUS ZENBOOK UX301LA ASUS ZENBOOK UX301LA

Graphs of color temperature and RGB levels: left– before calibration and right – after calibration

At first sight the overall color rendering is good enough, but at closer acquaintance the predominance of blue shades is seen. The reason is higher luminance of blue sub pixels which shift a color temperature to cool colors. But the accuracy of color rendering is very good: the mean value of ΔE is 0.57.

ASUS ZENBOOK UX301LA ASUS ZENBOOK UX301LA

Graphs of gamma-curves: left– before calibration and right – after calibration

Gamma-curves in initial state have quite good settings but after the calibration the result is more optimized.

ASUS ZENBOOK UX301LA

By the way you can use a proprietary ASUS Splendid Technology application for rapid manual adjustment of color temperature (in case if it is “warm” or “cool”).


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