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Asus ZenBook 13 UX333F review: Compact design, large display, zippy performance

This is Asus's smallest-ever design for a 13-inch laptop.

, ET Bureau|
Jan 30, 2019, 03.01 PM IST
Price: Rs 71,990 onwards

Rating: ****

Specs: 13.3-inch IPS, 1920 x 1080 pixels, 8th generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, 512GB PCIe SSD storage, Nvidia GeForce MX150 GPU with 2GB VRAM, USB Type C port,1 x USB 3.0 port, 1 x USB 2.0 port, HDMI, microSD slot, WiFi ac, Bluetooth, 3D IR camera, Windows 10, 1.19kg

Pros: Sleek and compact design, military grade durability, zippy performance with minimal heating, sharp display with four side nano-edge bezel, ergolift hinge design, 3D IR camera, backlit keyboard, glass trackpad with numpad function, good number of ports despite sleek design

Cons: Battery life not up to the mark, keyboard takes some time to get used to, uses proprietary charger, comes with a USB 2.0 port, sub-par screen brightness level

Asus ZenBook range of laptops have consistently impressed us with their premium offerings. We especially like the ZenBook 13 for its compact design and the ZenBook S for its unique Ergolift design. With the latest ZenBook 13, Asus has merged the two laptops into one device which is powerful, compact and ergonomic.

It is difficult to believe that this is a laptop with 13-inch display from its size. This is Asus's smallest-ever design for a 13-inch laptop and the length and breadth is smaller than the size of an A4 sheet of paper. Asus has managed to do this because for the first time, they have offered nano-edge bezels on all four sides of the display. This gives you a large display in a small footprint while making the laptop stand out from the crowd. The screen looks good and has full HD resolution but we found the brightness levels to be sub-par. At maximum brightness, it would be difficult to see the on-screen content if you have a light-source (like a window) behind you.

As mentioned above, the new ZenBook 13 combines the design of the previous year's ZenBook models. So while the laptop continues to be lightweight (1.19kg),it is also much more ergonomic to use for long duration thanks to the ErgoLift design. The ErgoLift design puts the keyboard at a slight incline which makes it ergonomic and comfortable to type. The other benefit of the ErgoLift is that it also aids the laptop in staying cool with a more effective heat dissipation. One disadvantage with the design is that you cannot keep the laptop flat on a surface when open and it limits the angle of how much you can open the screen - thankfully we did not find these to be a problem for day to day usage.

On the top lid, the laptop has Asus's signature concentric circle design which we personally find to be one of the best looking options on a laptop till date. What further impressed us that the laptop has military grade durability - you can carry it with you without worrying about damage from fall, water or dust. Even with the compact design, Asus has managed to give a USB Type-C port, HDMI, microSD slot and two full size USB ports - one is USB 3 while other is USB 2. For a premium laptop, Asus offering a USB 2.0 port in 2019 is a choice we could not understand.

You get a chiclet style keyboard and while it appears to be of standard size, once you start typing you realize the keys are grouped closer together than normal. It took us some time to adjust to the travel distance between keys for typing. The good thing is that the arrow keys are of the standard size but we did not like the fact that the right side shift key is smaller in size. The trackpad is responsive and great to use with multi-touch gestures. It also hides a secret - long tap on the icon on the top right of the trackpad and a backlit numpad appears on the trackpad. This is immensely helpful for students as well as office users. We absolutely love this add-on and hope all the other brands start offering this on their laptops too.

Our review unit was powered by 8th generation Intel Core i5 processor coupled with 8GB RAM, Nvidia MX150 GPU and a 512GB PCIe SSD (Rs 99,990). We found the laptop to be more than capable of handling daily tasks, basic level of Photoshop/Lightroom and even playing games like CounterStrike: Condition Zero. The laptop runs cool and the only time we could hear the fan was when we were editing a RAW image in Lightroom with Google Chrome running 15 tabs. Battery life is the biggest sore point for us on the ZenBook 13 - we got between 5-6 hours of battery life on regular basis while we were expecting 8 hours plus. Also, the laptop still comes with a proprietary charger and doesn't use USB Type-C for charging.

There were a number of other features that impressed us on the new ZenBook 13. You get a 3D IR camera even with the sleek bezel and it works really well with Windows Hello. Its HD webcam has a wide-angle, supports HDR and while the quality is not great, it is much better than what we usually see on laptops. The stereo speakers tuned by harman kardon are loud enough to use as a bedside music player.

All in all, the new ZenBook 13 is a stunner when it comes to looks and a great performer. The battery life is the main issue we have while the screen brightness is the other issue that bothered us. This is why we had to chop one star in the rating and give it 4 stars out of 5. For the same price range, you can consider the Dell XPS 13 with its Infinity display which is almost as impressive with three side narrow bezels. However, you will get it with 256B storage in this price.

IFA 2018 Highlights: 5 Laptops That Stole The Show

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Zen-Tastic Series

3 Sep, 2018
Asus has been popular for its ZenBook series of laptops. At IFA 2018, three laptops under the ZenBook S series were launched. Termed as one of the most compact series of laptops, these are meant for general use. All of these are embedded with the ErgoLift hinge, IB webcams, biometric login and more. Another special feature is the touchpad which can double as a numeric keypad. The price is not out yet, but the Asus ZenBooK 13, 14 and 15 under the S series are totally worth the shot. (Image: www.asus.com)

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