Monday, February 6, 2012

Asus Zenbook UX21 - First few days with it

My Asus Zenbook UX21 arrived yesterday, and its been a great experience so far. I have little experience with Apple products, but the feel of a premium product is created by numerous details both large and small and you are constantly reminded of them.

The problems mentioned in previews regarding the trackpad have all been fixed in the final commercial product, all you have to do is click "Yes" on first boot-up to apply Asus updates. The second gripe previewers had was with the keyboard and there I can see what they might've been talking about. In contrary to previewer's, I would consider the keyboard to be too stiff rather than have too much flex like often reported. We might be describing the same phenomenon, though, as I too suffer from the occasional letter being left out when typing, just like previewers warned. My biggest problem with the keyboard is the placement of the "Del" and "Power" keys right next to eachother. Luckily a custom Asus dialog screen pops up when you press the power key as to make sure you didn't press the key by accident.

Sound from the speakers is very good. I'd still much rather have headphones connected, but for the occasional video viewing they're really great. I can also listen to music if no headphones are available with comfort.

The "instant on" feature is superb, and now a necessity to me on devices as portable as this. Apple people will be more than familiar with this function: it enables the device to come back from hibernation into usable state in around 2 seconds. Just close the lid, pack it away and forget about it. The device has been designed for this use, and so the battery will last for about a week in this state and should the battery run out it will do a quick backup of everything going on so you won't lose your precious work.

Previewers criticized also the viewing angles especially on this 11.6" Zenbook, but I must say that doesn't matter the least to me. I'm glad that the dude sitting next to me on a train won't be able to just gaze over and see what's on my screen. I don't think anyone watches movies off these things, at least not with friends. The screen could be less glossy, but its not as glossy as my old laptop that actually made using it hard in most situations. So again, I'm very content.

Ideally, I would've wanted to get a netbook with built-in 3G,  but soon noticed that these seem to have gone out of fashion. Finnsh operators still have some models in their selection, but I wasn't in the mood of making a 2-year contract just to get my hands on a 3G-enabled device. Luckily my DesireZ and N9 work fantastically as WiFi hotspots, effectively negating the need for a 3G SIM-slot.

Performance wise the machine is great. I'm a big Starcrat 2 fan, and I'm happy to report that SC2 runs decently on Medium settings applied automatically by the game after hardware inspection. If you want to stay on top of what's happening in the game, you might as well switch to "Pro" graphics settings, which means "Low" settings for those unfamiliar with SC2 progaming. ;) Installation of SC2 is always a 2-4 hour feat, as first you download the installer and then you apply all the updates to the game. Thanks to the solid state drive in the UX21, the game installed in record time, clocking just under 3hrs. This is a good hour faster than on my desktop PC. Bravo.

I have no opinion whether this netbook is a "MacBook Air killer" or anything of the sort, but I feel like I've got pretty much everything I would've wanted from the Air and more: premium feel, premium look, but all the app compatibility I could dream of. Not to mention support for accessories: I depend on no single manufactuer for them, everything proprietary has been compensated by Asus by providing the required dongles with the sales package. When comparing the UX21 to other ultrabooks out there right now, Asus fends distinction for itself by the premium design and manufacturing materials. Other ultrabooks at this moment look like plastic toys compared to this thing, even if they cost almost as much as the Zenbook.

Off to install Jolicloud on this thing.

Links to reviews of the Asus Zenbook UX21: 

Anandtech's in-depth review into Ultrabook technology and how the UX21 fares in this regard:

Introduction to the UX21 and a little about the media playback on this device:

UltrabookNews' great written review:


  1. Pretty honest review. Out of all of the launched Ultrabooks, this sure is the best.

  2. Thanks, sell electronics. I also feel the UX series from Asus offers the best value for money in Ultrabooks at this moment.