Asus ZenBook UX32A review
13.3 in 1,366x768 display, 1.5kg, 1.7 GHz Intel Core i5-3317U, 4.00GB RAM, 500GB disk, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Although the ZenBook UX32A follows the same design queues as Asus' previous Ultrabooks, such as the top-end Asus ZenBook Prime UX31A, a few concessions have been made to make this model cheaper. Primarily, the case is a little thicker to squeeze in the mechanical hard disk, although at 18mm at its thickest point, it can hardly be considered chunky.
A slightly thicker case does have one advantage: there's more space for ports, although Asus has still opted to bundle adaptors for VGA and Ethernet, rather than squeeze them into the chassis. You still get three USB ports, a multi-format card reader, 3.5mm headset audio jack and an HDMI video output, but having to keep extra adaptors handy is a minor inconvenience.
Underneath the brushed metal lid lies a Chiclet-style keyboard, all-in-one metal touchpad and a 13.3in display. Unlike the more expensive ZenBook Prime with its Full HD display, the UX32A has a 1x366x768 screen. As you might expect, viewing angles are limited, but the matt finish helps diffuse light reflections and both brightness and contrast are respectable. Colours appear slightly too vibrant, with an unwanted slight blue hue. There’s also not a huge amount of screen tilt, which could make it difficult to work in cramped locations such as in a plane seat.
The keyboard was something of a stumbling block with the original ZenBook, but thankfully Asus has rectified that here. Each full-size key has a very springy action and plenty of travel. The entire keyboard tray is now backlit, making it easier to work in the dark, and the function keys behave as you would expect, unlike on other laptops where they are often remapped to multimedia shortcuts.
Less impressive is the touchpad. The smooth surface creates very little friction and is sensitive enough to span the whole desktop in one movement, but the integrated buttons occasionally interfere with cursor movement, particularly when dragging icons around the screen. However, for the most part it works problem-free, so with some adjustment you won’t have too many issues.