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  • sheh - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    It looks like the higher monitor DPI trend really started. I hope. Now just double the physical size (well, maybe stick to 24"), keep the DPI, change the ratio to 1.6, and you have a nice desktop monitor.

    Oh, and make it OLED. :)
    Reply
  • bji - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Yes, and don't forget ditching 16:9 and going back to 16:10, a much more useful aspect ratio for computing. Reply
  • kezeka - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    a 1.6 ratio is 16:10. Reply
  • MamiyaOtaru - Sunday, September 09, 2012 - link

    I am never throwing out my 4:3 monitor. I even liked 5:4. With so many people saying widescreen is better, complaints about 16:9 make me happy inside. Reap what you sow Reply
  • peterfares - Sunday, September 09, 2012 - link

    No one who knows anything likes 16:9, it's too wide for a computer. I like large 16:10 2560x1600 monitors where you can have two windows open side by side with plenty of room in each window. Reply
  • misiu_mp - Tuesday, September 11, 2012 - link

    I hate widescreen. It belongs in the living room, not on the desktop, where it is a complete waste of pixels.
    I miss 1600x1200 displays. For laptops I find the 1400x1050 very comfortable at 15''. Alas, the mass hysteria of "wide-screen", "HD" combined with the popularization of consumer electronics made really useful screen sizes a niche that no one dares fill up. Shame.
    Reply
  • magreen - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    This. A million times, this. Reply
  • pkaro - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    It's a 25% reduction in weight.

    Change = (Initial - Final)/(Initial) * 100
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Fixed, thanks. Reply
  • MichaelD - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Nice review! Very detailed and I enjoy your personalized writing style. Thanks, Jarred.
    IMO, the Ultrabooks are getting there. I don't at all care for proprietary connectors on the storage and *ugh* soldered-on memory, but the form factor is nice and thankfully we FINALLY have decent screens on laptops. When I can get an ultrabook with at least 16x9 res, user upgradable memory and standard form-factor (SSD) storage for under $1K, I'll bite.
    Reply
  • Belard - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Those issues are typical of ultrabooks... okay, other than the non-standard proprietary SSD connector.

    For a notebook in this this class, it seems ASUS hits most of the marks. But it also shows their stupidity of using non-standard SSD and the crappy generic keyboard. Only an idiot would have the power button where IT DOESN'T BELONG. It a cheap way of doing things. Otherwise, it looks like a beautiful ultrabook, its brushed metal looks great.

    For business users, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon is still better BUT it doesn't have a 1080p screen at this time. I'm guessing within a year or so, 1080p SHOULD be standard but on the sub $600 notebooks.

    The keyboard on the ThinkPad is still the best. The screen is matte. The memory (LIKE pretty much ALL UB) is soldered - its a space issue. The X1 comes with 4 or 8GB of RAM. For typical users, 4GB is still more than enough. Still, Ultrabooks are really nothing more than the PC version of the Apple Air, priced and aimed at the high end user, willing to spend an extra $500~1000 on a notebook. People with money do this... but for a typical WORK computer, its idiotic.

    Look at the ThinkPad T430s, its just under 4lbs and only 1" thick, its not a wedge shape... its very expandable 4/8/16GB, any kind of drive you want and even includes a dead-weight optical drive. I bet they could shave off 1/2 a pound by ditching the optical drive... but it does have its uses (not needed an external.

    And of course, going with a standard 5~6lb notebook means you are paying $500~700 for about the same performance.

    Here is an example (as close to possible same spec):

    $1600 Ultrabook - Carbon X1 - i7-3667 (3.2Ghz max) 4GB RAM 128GB SSD - 8hr battery
    14" screen (1600x900) Mini DP / USB 2 (1) / USB 3 (1) Audio and SD Card reader.
    * Oddly, the 8GB version only comes with a slower i5 2.8Ghz CPU for $1680 base.

    $1225 SlimBook - T430s - i5-3320M (3.3Ghz max) 4GB RAM 128GB SSD - 7hr battery
    14" screen (1600x900) Mini DP / USB 2 (1)Pwr / USB 3 (2) Audio SD Card reader & VGA. Ethernet. * the i5 on this notebook is still faster than the i7 in the ultrabook. ** Option to swap out the DVD-RW drive for 2nd battery or 2nd HD.

    $1329 Notebook - T430 (Same specs above, including DVD-RW swap) - Yeah, the price is wonky... when configured to match the 430s, it ends up costing more... but is usually about $200 less than the T430s. A 2nd battery adds upto another 4hrs.

    * All above configured with same memory/SSD and WWAN communications / back-lit keyboards.

    I'd rather pocket the $400 to forgo the 1lb savings. Get the extra USB port and far easier to expand notebook that will hold ANY 2.5" drive I want to upgrade to later.

    Of course, my needs and others aren't the same. I have a 15" and a 12" thinkpads for different uses. Expandability in a .75" form-factor is not allowed with todays tech and I don't find the price to be all that good. Mind you, its better than 3-4 years ago when Lenovo had the X1 ThinkPad which was the FIRST "Apple AIR" like notebook on the market, it too was $2000.

    For the usual computer user (mom / web-user - facebook blah) - a $400 6lb 15" notebook or $400 tablet will do just fine. For $330, picked up a semi-bottom end Lenovo with an i3-CPU, 4GB, 320GB HD, 15" 1366x768 screen, almost not crap-ware installed (just the AV program, I think McAffe) - it was more than enough.

    Hence, for the PC market, Ultrabooks are for those who want to spend $1000+
    Reply
  • bji - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    It probably seems overly picky, but I would never consider the Thinkpad line because of the pointer nub in the middle of the keyboard.

    That is so 1990s. Yeah I know there are a few stalwart fans who still want a pointer nub, but for everyone else, it's a needless appendage, and it actually interferes with my typing (I don't touch type, I have my typing style which is reasonably fast and accurate but gets tripped by the nub).

    Also the screen is 16:9, which I guess is acceptable in the PC world since it's all anyone seems to offer, but I vastly prefer the 16:10 aspect ratio on my retina macbook pro.
    Reply
  • Belard - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    I'm okay with the pointy stick... ThinkPad clones by HP & Dell have thrown that in as well. Considering on the latest revised keyboards (which still feel very much the same and allow for back-lighting) - they kept it and it takes up a bit more space than it should. I think it can go... I'm not die hard for it, I still prefer a mouse. My two ThinkPads DO NOT have a touch pad.

    Also, the current keyboard still has the stupid Fn <> CTRL keys switched. They can be flipped in BIOS (A hint that they SHOULD change the keys). Whatever, the keyboard is still better than the ASUS one above... but not as good as their previous layout style. I would have loved to have seen a mixture of the two. New shape with back-lighting with previous layout and drop the point-stick.

    yeah yeah... I hear you on the screen size. Everyone has gone 16:9 which I bloody hate. 16:10 was easily better. Here is an example, a Thinkpad 15" 16:9 we had bought was defective (junky L series) and replaced it with a 14" model 16:10. The 14" screen is just as TALL as the 15". So during that transition, I ordered more 14" models... saved weight and space.

    Going 16:9 as a standard has its benefits. Doing video output in 1080 is the same as the notebook (if its 1080) and keeps things from looking strange. Other than that... i hate it. When ever I get a new thinkpad, I'll be stuck getting such a screen.... sigh.
    Reply
  • Impulses - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    I've only skimmed the review, I'll be reading it from start to finish later, but I didn't see any mention of the included Ethernet adapter or even the AC charger like on past UX reviews... I assume they're both the same ones we've seen bundled before but not everyone might realize that. I've actually been looking for a GigE USB 3.0 adapter without much luck, probably why ASUS didn't upgrade from the Ethernet one. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    I added those to the "Extras" section of the table; without GbE, though, it's not much faster than WiFi at best and it's slower in some cases. Large files over the WiFi connection (particularly with 5GHz) can hit 18MB/s, where 100Mb Ethernet maxes out around 12.5MB/s. Lots of smaller files are still much faster over Ethernet, though, due to latency. Reply
  • MadMan007 - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Proprietary SSD connector = fail. Reply
  • MichaelD - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Yup. One of the "joys" of laptop ownership for me is the ability to upgrade things down the road. I keep my portable devices for a long time. Even my single-core, 1.2GHz AMD-based laptop is relatively speedy with 2GB of RAM and a hybrid HD in it, for example. Reply
  • janderk - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Asus got you covered. If buy the slightly thicker UX32VD you can put in it your own SSD and one stick of RAM. Reply
  • Belard - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Yep, I kind of learned this problem myself with the first ThinkPad T400s, it uses a 1.8" drive form factor, which until recently - was not available for SSD, or at least rarely.

    Proprietary connector for a standard device = stupid.
    Reply
  • GotThumbs - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Agreed. Add in the fact that the memory so soldered....and with ONLY 4 gigs.

    While I can see companies seeing the Billions of profits Apple gets with this kind of "one size fits all" approach. It doesn't fly with everyone. Building for the masses seems to be the approach taken here as with Apple. No choices...just take what your given...and like it. Not for me and I'm guessing most readers on this site.

    It looks nice but that's as far as it goes IMO.

    Pass.
    Reply
  • cknobman - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    You know best buy sells this model: UX31A-R5102F

    Which has:
    128GB SSD
    core i5 3317
    1080p screen

    Best part is it only costs $999

    So you can get a full 1080p ultrabook for under a grand.
    Reply
  • Connoisseur - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Careful with the best buy versions. From what I read on the AT forums, the quality control on the store model screens can be lacking as compared to the direct purchase versions. There's a lot of anecdotal evidence that the screens in the stores come with a higher prevalence of stuck pixels, bad backlight bleeding etc. They also mention that Asus doesn't cover the store model versions in their stuck pixel guarantee. Reply
  • Captmorgan09 - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Yep, I purchased this model about a month ago for traveling and working on photos in Lightroom. When I first saw it on Best Buy's site at $999, I was skeptical about it having the 1080p IPS LCD but decided to take the plunge anyways. I absolutely love the monitor, I finally have a travel laptop that I can be fairly confident in post processing my photos and posting online.

    As for the 4GB of RAM being on the slim side for photo work, Lightroom is actually not too bad in terms of RAM consumption. Yes, I would like to have 6 or 8, but 4GB does work when editing Canon 7D sized RAW photos in Lightroom 4.1.

    *Lightroom 4 is a SLOW POS no matter how much RAM/CPU you throw at it. If it wasn't for a few very nice new features, I would go back to 3.x.
    Reply
  • quiksilvr - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Why did they go through the trouble of putting mini-displayport at all? I thought Ivy Bridge was Thunderbolt ready. Reply
  • janderk - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    It's not a mini-display port (that is a small, probably soon fixed, error in the nice review). It is a mini VGA connection. My UX31A came with a VGA dongle which can be connected to this port. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Oh, you're right! I assumed it was mini-DP with an adapter to VGA. What a shame! Reply
  • Roland00Address - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    And there was no real reason to go with mini vga. Mini vga is a non standard connection that will need an adapter to go to vga.

    They could have gone with mini displayport which is about the same size and has 4 advantages.
    0) It can be adapted to vga with a cheap adapter
    1) It can be adapted to dvi with a cheap adapter
    2) It can be adapted to hdmi with a cheap adapter (and this adapter will carry sound)
    3) It can run a 2560x1600 display with a mini displayport to displayport cable
    4) Mini displayport adapters are far more common thus if you lose your adapter all you have to do is go to a apple store or a best buy to get this cable since macs have standardized on mini displayport/thunderbolt. Thus if you are a professional that needs to do a presentation and you are in a hurry and you need the adapter now you can go to a brick and mortor store and get this adapter right now.
    Reply
  • peterfares - Sunday, September 09, 2012 - link

    Yeah, that mini VGA port is really stupid. Dell's ultrabook has a mini DP connector. It just makes so much sense. Reply
  • DanNeely - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Nope. You still need to add a TB chip for an extra $20-30 to the total cost and whatever tradeoffs the extra space needed on the PCB requires. Reply
  • boogerlad - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Is it possible to remove the cooler right after removing the back cover, or is the io cable going to get in the way first? I'd like to replace the thermal paste. Any warranty void stickers? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    I didn't see any stickers, so you should be able to remove the HSF with a bit of effort. I didn't try to do this but the screws are easily accessible. I should note that I tried to disconnect the battery plug and gave up for fear of breaking something, though, so maybe it won't be so easy. LOL Reply
  • j_c - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    "and stay away from the SanDisk U100 if you want decent SSD performance"

    More details on that particular issue would be nice.
    Do you know a way to distinguish between these two models?
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    AFAIK, ASUS is not shipping the U100 any longer because of the performance issues. You can see where the UX31E and UX21A (with U100) rate in the PCMark 7 Storage suite -- basically the slowest SSD solution we've tested recently. What I don't know is whether ASUS figured out something with the ADATA SF-2281 firmware; I never experienced errors, but the BSOD issue still remains on some laptops/desktops. Reply
  • j_c - Thursday, August 30, 2012 - link

    Very interesting, because over here in Germany, it seems the Sandisk model is the only one available. One commenter on amazon.de cites a call by Asus Customer Support, that no ADATA models will be available for now. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, September 08, 2012 - link

    Apparently there are plenty of U100 equipped units shipping; I've updated the conclusion. Reply
  • Shadowmaster625 - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Can anyone make an educated guesstimate on how much a typical ultrabook would cost if it included this specific display, only a 128GB SSD, 4GB of RAM and the cheapest trinity A8? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    How much to make or how much it would sell for? In terms of BoM costs, it would probably be around $100 less than the Core i5 version ASUS is selling right now. Retail pricing is the real question. Right now, HP's Sleekbook 6z-1000 sells for $225 less than the Intel i5-3317U variant, but that's also with the A6-4455M which would be substantially slower than full voltage A8. The A10-4655M ought to be reasonably fast in graphics vs. Intel ULV, but we haven't been able to test it and it's $100 more than the A6 version ($125 less than Intel).

    The big problem is that no one is making 13.3" AMD-based "sleekbooks" that I know of -- links if you have them, please. And in fact, their AMD Sleekbooks are the worst thing I can think of: a 15.6" 1366x768 display with an ultra-thin form factor. Do people want 15.6" thin laptops that much? I feel most people going for ultra-thin are going to want 14" or smaller.

    Actually, the biggest problem is getting someone to make a 13.3" AMD laptop with a premium quality LCD. It's possible in theory, but getting the bean counters to agree to spend $100 more or whatever for a "premium" IPS 1080p display while going with a "budget" AMD APU is a very long shot. Heck, getting premium displays in consumer laptops in general is hard enough -- the 1080p UX21A/UX31A/UX32VD are the exception. Others might follow ASUS' lead in the future, but I expect all the quality LCDs to reside in $1000+ laptops for a while yet.
    Reply
  • ReverendDC - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    I understand that SSD is faster, but I would like more mention of the dependability or lack therein of SSD. I am not sure of the warranty on this device, but if it is a year, you may have issues, especially if you move large chunks on and off the drive regularly (as you probably would for movies and music when taking the laptop on travels). Most SSDs have a warranty of three years, and even AnandTech has stated that you should expect about 5 years of storage, but anything more is gravy.

    I have 15 year old spinning platters that still give data, although there are some bad sectors starting to crop up. Obviously, I am not willing to go backwards, but SSD is not the best use case in every scenario, especially if data fidelity is a top requirement, even if it is much speedier. What we really need is a price cut in SLC modules, which are far more reliable, with better capacity.

    That being said....thanks for the great review. Informative as always.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    SSD durability is still far greater than five years for all but the most strenuous use cases, so I'm not too concerned about that. If you're constantly writing data to SSDs, you can burn through it faster, but Anand did some testing where he calculated even extreme use cases would still last five years. Five years from now, I suspect other areas of the laptop are likely to be failing (fans, hinges, whatever), and when an SSD runs out of cycles you can still read data off of it. Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    As we have stated in numerous SSD reviews, the endurance of current MLC NAND is not a problem for consumer use. Reply
  • ReverendDC - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    GM failed partially because of "planned obsolescence." Would SSDs not be put into the same category, regardless of how long they last in the end?

    Tortoise vs hare, in my opinion (as small and non-majority it may be). We are starting to see low-end SSDs coming with only three years or two years of warrenty (thanks for the ever-informative reveiws, guys!). This means that, whether or not they continue to work, they aren't expected to work after 2-3 years. This is definitely inside the range of the average consumer's purchasing cycle, which usually stretches to 4-5 years.

    This type of thinking is much more in line with CPUs and RAM, which will be obsolete within 2-3 years and need to be replaced (Moore's Law). Hard drives really haven't changed all that much in 15-20 years, and, really, are similar to the old tape spool drives in how they operate (speaking of tape, it is still used for mass storage...because it is reliable and lasts forever*, although tear-jerkingly slow...).

    Just throwing it out there that there is still a (shrinking) contingency that will put up with double the boot times to get better reliablity. Not trying to be a jerk, just offer a different opinion (AND STAY OFF MY LAWN!).

    *Forever=your mileage may vary
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Just because something is out of warranty doesn't mean it stops working. For the record, I've had five people I know come to me in the past six months with dead/dying hard drives as a problem. Three were on laptops, two were on desktops, and only one drive allowed me to recover data (after putting it in the deep freeze). The oldest drive was around five years, three were less than two years old, and all were out of warranty because they came with an OEM PC (1-year to 3-year warranty).

    I can't imagine SSDs are really any less reliable than HDDs, which in my experience aren't worth keeping after 3-4 years regardless. They get incredibly loud (bearing noise), fragmentation of files means massive performance degradation, and most consumer drives are now designed to last 3-4 years before all bets are off. In four years, I'm certainly not going to be sad to have to replace a $200 256GB SSD with a $200 1TB+ SSD that will likely run at even higher speeds.

    Put another way: when was the last time you even thought about reusing a 3+ year old hard drive in a new PC build? Every time I help someone put together a new PC and they ask, "Can't I just use my old hard drive?" I respond with an emphatic "NO!" Then I explain that technically, yes, they can, but when $70 gets you a modern 1TB drive that will be more reliable and faster, do you really want to use your 4+ year old drive that might fail at any time? If they insist, I usually refer them to someone else, because I won't be responsible for putting together that sort of system and then having to provide support when things go south.

    When have you needed to get the data off an old IDE drive where the data wasn't already backed up somewhere else? Even old SATA drives are now retired to the scrap heap (after copying data off, if necessary/possible). If people are keeping drives for 10 years and not backing things up, they're going to lose that data at some point.

    SSDs aren't necessarily more reliable in any of these areas, but I've had enough issues with HDDs over the years that I wouldn't trust them as far as I can throw them. HDDs to sail pretty far on a good toss, though.... ;-)
    Reply
  • rickon66 - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Three reasons ultrabooks have not caught on.
    1. Price
    2. Price
    3. Price

    The mainstream public will not pay the price for an ultrabook, when they see a laptop for $350 sitting next to it. I know the advantages of an ultrabook, but the general citizen does not care enought to pay 3x or 4x the price. It is still somewhat a niche product.
    Reply
  • milkod2001 - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    I've read some articles(not on this web) how is Intel going to push prices for Ultrabooks dows to 700-800 level while this one almost doubles it.

    U'll get nice screen but NoN upgradeable RAM(4GB max) NoN upgradeable SSD...would not pay more then $700 for that, it's just now worth it

    I only hope ultrathins based on Trinity will bring some nice alternative because copying Apple designs and asking same money for it is just a bad JOKE
    Reply
  • flashbacck - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    It's 2012. Seriously. Why can no one make a frigg'n touchpad that just works? Reply
  • Paedric - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Sadly, it's probably because of patents. Reply
  • KPOM - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    The ASUS sounds like the top Ultrabook right now. I wonder why they didn't make an 8GB option, though, since it's available in the MacBook Air, and for the most part ASUS has taken its design cues directly from Apple with this particular line. The 1080 IPS screen is a nice touch, and it's good to see that battery life is still pretty good.

    What does it take to get a Silver or Gold from AnandTech? The top ultraportables (ASUS UX31A and MacBook Air) get Bronze. I think Silver would be well warranted for both. The ASUS has the best screen in the business, and the Air has 8GB RAM and 512GB SSD options.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    8GB and a touchpad that doesn't come with any caveats would have been Gold. Each of those items dropped it a notch in my book. The pricing is also somewhat of a factor, as a lot of people are going to shy away from $1400, though the $1030 model DB51 is at least a bit more reasonable. Reply
  • Aikouka - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    You touched on it in your review, but I'd highly recommend that you try installing the Elantech drivers. I have a UX31A-DB51 (128GB SSD variant), and I've been using the Elantech drivers with no problems. Here are my qualms with it though...

    * The touchpad is too big and it's not recessed. I have the same problems with my Transformer TF300, but the fact that the touchpad is rather large and not recessed means that it's very easy to hit it with your palm while typing. I don't have this problem on my old Dell XPS M1530, because the touchpad isn't that large and it's recessed. Although, it doesn't seem to ever register my palm taps near the top as clicks, which is a good thing. I typed up a few forum posts on it last night, and the worst that I did was move around the cursor a little bit.

    * No middle mouse button. I've gotten pretty used to using the left mouse button + right mouse button to act as the middle mouse button. I mostly use it for doing things like closing browser tabs (middle clicking on the tab itself closes it). However, this doesn't work with the UX31, which might be an issue with the Elantech drivers?

    * Only has USB 3. This is mostly an issue if you're neurotic like me and refuse to use the default Windows install. Since Windows 7 does not support USB 3 by default, I had to jump through a few hoops just to reinstall Windows and put my drivers on the laptop. However, a fellow forum goer said that turning the USB legacy option to "always on" (instead of "smart") would allow the Ethernet adapter to work. This at least will allow you to download the drivers.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Can you direct me to a link where I can get the Elantech drivers? I commented on this in the review, and I can't find any non-ASUS drivers for Elantech out there. As for middle-click, I put in a request with ASUS to add that functionality. Reply
  • Aikouka - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    I got the Elantech drivers ( Version V10.5.10.0 ) that I'm using from ASUS's website:

    http://support.asus.com/Download.aspx?SLanguage=en...

    They're only about a month old, which isn't too bad. Finding that link can be a pain though... I had to go back to the forums where someone posted it ( http://forums.anandtech.com/showpost.php?p=3372897... ) just to find it!
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Interesting... I actually was probably at that page before but didn't notice the "Elantech" option about three down. That said: WTF REQUIRES 146MB!? A touchpad driver should be about 1/10 that at most. :-\ Reply
  • Aikouka - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Haha! That was my reaction when I saw the download size as well! I get the feeling that it's some monstrous package that is capable of servicing a lot of different products... kind of like graphics drivers?

    Although, I don't know how many products Elantech has.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Okay, so I've downloaded the actual Elantec drivers from ASUS' site now to see if they're any better. One thing they do have that the ASUS drivers lack is a "Smart detector" option that you can customize to help avoid accidental activation of the touchpad while you're typing. The default setting is too small for my liking, but if you set it to use a "large" area you can get it so that it mostly rejects input while you type. I'm not sure how good it is because this is the first I've tried it, but the above paragraph was typed with me basically resting my thumb near the palm on the touchpad and I didn't get any activations where my text got screwed up. I'm going to go update that page of the article just for completeness' sake, though I still feel like it's not quite at the same level as a good Synaptics touchpad. Reply
  • amrs - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Samsung's Ivy Bridge Ultrabook needs some more quality reviews, like Anandtech's... Is this planned?

    Personally I think the RAM issue is something of a concern. Hopefully someone puts out a model with 8 GB.
    Reply
  • Toshio - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    +1 on a review in this one, many sites consider it the best thin+light windows notebook. Reply
  • RetroEvolute - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    I actually would have bought this ultrabook, but when I saw that it used a proprietary connector for its SSD, and soldered the RAM in (and at only 4GB), I really can't justify it. Everything else about it seems so great.

    On goes the wait for the perfect ultrabook.
    Reply
  • Beenthere - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    There is a good reason why Ultrabooks don't sell even with lots of Intel bribe money.

    The reality is that there is nothing Ultra about these toys other than the high price. Most folks can see that there are many better, cheaper options for 99% of the world. If you're one of those who must own an Ultrabook, jump in. Otherwise your money is better spent elsewhere.
    Reply
  • roc1 - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Jarred, could you tell me if the audio jack can also be used as a line-in? It is important for me to record sound from my synthesizer on the go.

    Thanks! Great review :)
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    As far as I can tell, and going by the specs as well, it only works for speakers/headphones -- no mic or line-in support. So if you need that and you don't want a USB adapter, you'll need to look elsewhere. Reply
  • roc1 - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Thanks for the prompt response! Reply
  • ph2000 - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    isn't the headphone jack is a combo for headphone and microphone
    it has 4 pins, same as phone headset
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    All I know is I plugged in a microphone and while the Realtek control panel popped up a "device connected" message, it didn't allow me to configure the mic -- it set it up as headphones. Reply
  • ph2000 - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    it because normal headphone and mic jack has the same pin arrangement
    use an adapter/splitter (TRRS to TRS) to use normal microphone
    TRRS = 4 pin
    TRS = 2 / 3 pin
    something like this
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Startech-com-3-5mm-Headset...
    Reply
  • repoman27 - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Why on earth would ASUS include a mini-VGA port with a VGA adapter instead of a mini DisplayPort with a VGA adapter? I mean I understand an analog output can still be useful from a lowest common denominator standpoint, but if you need a dongle to use it anyway, why not just go mini-DP?

    I can only assume it has something to do with the Ivy Bridge FDI requiring at least two of the three display outputs to share a pixel clock. Still odd though.
    Reply
  • smartypnt4 - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Will we see a mini-review discussing more in-depth differences between the UX31A and the UX32VD?

    The upgrade-ability of the UX32VD seems like it would be almost every bit as good as the UX31A in most respects. It addresses the lack of availability of an 8GB upgrade since it has one slot for RAM available for upgrades, and it has a standard SATA 2.5" HDD. It could be argued that throwing an SSD in the UX32VD makes it the best ultrabook money can buy. It's a bit more expensive than the UX31A if you do that, though. But still.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Anand has the UX32VD and is working on that review; I don't know when he'll be finished, though. My biggest issue with the UX32VD is that most of the models lose the 1080p display and the HDD + SSD hybrid solution basically stinks compared to pure SSD. (That latter bit isn't just an ASUS problem, of course.) Reply
  • ka_ - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    That is the laptop I am most interested in! The main reason I will select UX32VD with IPS over UX31 is bad experience "mini" ports - the UX32VD got full size HDMI port. Also the UX32VD have one 2GB ram chip that can be changed with an 8GB giving a total 10GB ram. About pure SSD vs hybrid, I must say I favor hybrid still, though I could just as well bring an external USB 3.0 disk when space is needed. I would have liked to see the UX32VD without a dedicated graphics card - I have an Asus UL30VT currently and I never use the extra dedicated graphics card anyway. It could be interesting to know if the dedicated graphics card can be removed from the unit to save more weight or maybe even replaced with another SSD disk? Reply
  • Conficio - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Exactly. I'm looking time and again at the UX32? and the options that are affordable and shed the unnecessary GPU, those have a crappy display.

    Soldered RAM and proprietary SSD are only things for people with too much money. to be honest at this day and age I don't want a built in SSD in the first place. I'd rather buy it after market to have choice over controller and warranty.

    I'd even prefer a 14" or 15" version with an mSATA for the SSD and a 2.5" drive bay for the HDD and a beefy battery to boot.
    Reply
  • smartypnt4 - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Oh, no, I agree. I'm more referring to the versions with that excellent 1080p screen.

    And if I'm spending that much on a laptop, I don't think I'd have a problem finding a 128gb or 256gb SSD to put in it to replace that rather disappointing hybrid combo. That makes it a $1600-1700 laptop, though ($1500 for the laptop and $100-200 for the SSD).

    But still. Points for being able to upgrade an ultrabook that isn't too much bigger than the one you reviewed with standard parts.

    The only reason I push for a dedicated GPU is because when I find myself wanting it, it's REALLY nice to have. Most of the time, it's not needed. Those edge cases where I actually want one (playing an MMO on the go, etc.) make it worth it though, considering I upgrade laptops about once every 3-4 years at this point.

    Then again, this whole argument about a dedicated GPU could be moot with Haswell, which should be awesome from a GPU standpoint for no other reason than the eDRAM, much less the 40% more compute resouces (I think that's right anyway).
    Reply
  • smartypnt4 - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Wow. My math is a bit off here. $1300 + $100-200 = $1400-$1500.

    So, for a comparable price, you get a slightly larger ultrabook that you can upgrade yourself.
    Reply
  • janderk - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    I would have bought the 1080P UX32VD instead of the UX32A if it were available locally, but yes it is for nerds only.

    The 32VD only makes sense if you immediately upgrade RAM and put in a Samsung SSD and reuse the Hybrid drive as a secondary drive in another PC or USB disk enclosure.

    Hopefully Anand will tinker a bit with it too and do the same thing. Otherwise it certainly is an under-performer.
    Reply
  • jtwitkow - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    Yes, I agree! Anand PLEASE TINKER!!!! Add an SSD and an 8gb stick and let us know how it improves things over the stock setup. Please!!!! Reply
  • Galcobar - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Has anyone else noticed when shopping for laptops that display resolutions are never a filter option?

    Not one manufacturer or retailer that I've looked at will provide that information without drilling down in to the configuration details of a specific model. Given resolution is perhaps the biggest differentiator in a sea of laptops and ultrabooks running largely the same hardware, it's wildly frustrating.

    Would love to see "available screen resolutions" added as a category to the Bench for comparison purposes.
    Reply
  • parim - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    The flooding was in Thailand not Taiwan Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Egg, meet face. Sorry about that. Reply
  • Alexo - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Any chance of seeing a review of the Tinkpad X230? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Only if Lenovo wants to send us one, which is doubtful. Reply
  • Calista - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    What about the X1 Carbon? It seems to be one of the best ultraportables around and I would love for Anandtech to review it. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    The problem is getting *anything* from Lenovo (though oddly, Dustin was able to get a ThinkCentre). If it happens, that will be great, but I'm not holding my breath. Reply
  • nerd1 - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    I'd like to see some quality review of sammy's series 9 laptop. So far I have only seen crappy amateurish reviews so far (*ahem* engadget *ahem* theverge *ahem*) and I think it is one of two best ultrabook options out there with 1600*900 matte PLS display. Reply
  • Toshio - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    notebookreview.com has a decent review:
    http://www.notebookreview.com/default.asp?newsID=6...
    also they reviewed the 15" version, pretty interesting:
    http://www.notebookreview.com/default.asp?newsID=6...

    an Anandtech review would be pretty good whatsoever ;)
    Reply
  • nerd1 - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    That's old gen model with sandby bridge. Engadget review reports 7 hrs of battery life with new laptop - I'd like 'proper' review here. ;] Reply
  • JohnMD1022 - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    PC Decrapifier

    http://pcdecrapifier.com/
    Reply
  • ajp_anton - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    "ASUS did provide an updated Realtek driver that seemed to improve the audio quality slightly"

    Does this mean ASUS has tweaked the drivers themselves, or that it's just a newer version and I don't lose anything by upgrading from Realtek's website myself sometime in the future?
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    It looks like stock Realtek, but I could be wrong. Reply
  • geniekid - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Let's not forget the predecessors to these new fancy ultrabooks - the Asus UL series! My laptop at the moment is the Asus UL80Vt and even with its G210M, I can still run TF2, Civ 5, Diablo 3 and Guild Wars 2 on this machine, albeit at low quality and 1366x768 resolution. And this is a 3 year old laptop that cost me $850.

    These days, I won't be happy without a 650M and 900p resolution on a 14" screen, but the UL80Vt will always have a warm spot in my heart.
    Reply
  • falc0ne - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    I really don't see all the fuzz about ASUS.
    I had quite a few issues with ASUS products, most recent being with a brand new laptop featuring Sandy Bridge platform with core i7 processor that came with the hard drive DOA. I've only seen this happening with Acer or other OEMs that sell 'value' products. But ASUS is charging you premium prices. I just see them charging for premium quality but that quality just isn't there...
    From my past experiences I have 2 other desktops that I built and the motherboards failed. One failed in 3 months, the other 9-11 months. I have to mention the laptop the came DOA was in the range of $1600 and the latest motherboard that failed in the $150 price range - so not cheap ones at all.
    Anyone else had issues with their products?
    Reply
  • Roland00Address - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Why can't AMD make an ultrathin that is about $500 dollars that uses the a6 or a10 ulv
    It would be so easy for AMD to get an OEM to actually build an ultrathin that is cheap and actually good just by swapping out a few parts.

    Use a standard 11.6" netbook case. Many oems have cases that can take 17w processors in this form factor that are cheap remember the e series of amd processors have the same tdp as the a6 ulv. The faster celeron and pentium ulv dual cores also use 17w for tdp. For example hm dm1, Sony YB, Sony E11, my favorite the Lenovo Thinkpad x130, Lenovo x131, etc and the Acer Aspire One 756 (they finally got rid of the floating island crap and are now use chicklet). I am going to be talking more about the Acer Aspire One 756 below

    Place at least 4 GBs of ram in the computer but it has to be in dual channel mode. If you can't do 2x2GBs then 6 GBs (1x2gb+1x4gb) or 8 GBs. Note all the models I listed above have two memory slots.

    At least a 320gb hard drive or a 128 gb ssd. Note all the models I listed above use standard harddrives though some are limited to 7mm high models. The cheapest 320gb 7mm hard drives on the open market cost about $55 to 60, a samsung 830 128gb 7mm height ssd goes for about $100. So lets say $40 dollars extra for ssd.

    A 1366x768 screen, it doesn't need to have a high rest just good viewing angles. Currently TN panels are all you can find in the 11.6 form factor, but with the rise of tablets and windows 8 tablets coming out this fall I won't be suprised we will see 11.6 ips screens starting to appear. To put it in comparison a 11.6 inch screen with 768 pixels height in the 16x9 ratio is 10.11" by 5.68" the ipad 2 4x3 ratio with 768 pixels 7.75" by 5.83." Chinese OEMs have complete ips tablets in the 9.7" form factor going for $120 so the screen cost isn't exhorborant if someone is actually making that size and form factor. Problem is no one is currently making this form factor but I hope for windows 8 to change all this.
    -------
    To put it in comparison. Acer has a Acer Aspire One 756 with a celeron dual core, 4gbs of ram, and 500gb hard drive, with 7 home premium going for $349 final price on the open market. (Full model is AO756-2808-US) It weights 3.04 lbs with its 4 cell battery and is 1.1" inch tall.

    AMD has $150 dollars to play with (if they can convince acer to build it) to put the a6 ulv dual core and place an extra stick of memory and suddenly they are in the $500 dollar price market where people will seriously consider buying an amd ultra portable. I know the a6 ulv price that oems pay is nowhere near the difference of a celeron price+$150 since the tray price (which is not neccessary what acer pays intel) of the 3rd generation ultrabook i5 ulv is $225.00. (Intel and AMD don't publish tray prices for their celeron ulv or the a6 4455m)

    So why hasn't amd been able to convince anyone to do this? There are only two computer I have seen with the a6 4455m is the 15.6" hp sleekbook. I personally consider this computer fail for it is a 15.6" that weights as much as a 14" and still costs over $600 dollars. Why would someone pay that much, for an item that is so big, yet the have to go with the sacrifices of a ulv processor.

    There is also a samsung series 5 13.3" that uses the a6 4455m but its going price is $660 to $700. This computer is more my style but when the 3rd generation i5 version is going for the same price $660 to 700 why the hell would you go with the slower AMD option? (To top it off the Samsung uses the 500gb seagate hybrid drive while the AMD system does not.)
    Reply
  • nevertell - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    I'd love to see an article about an ultraportable or atleast a laptop with a 17w i7 dualcore with an express card slot with an external GPU. I know that there is some guerilla hardware involved in these setups and these are the exception, not the rule, but I've always entertained the idea of a portable that doubles as a desktop once you put it in a dock.
    Ultrabooks by themselves are never going to get further than they are now, since you don't need an i5 to browse the web, but to do anything more, the form factor is sort of limiting the machine. I don't really understand the fuss behind ultrabooks, if intel isn't making it a rule for them to have thunderbolt, as that WOULD solve most of the problems at this point in time I have with ultrabooks. Whilst you wouldn't have a special dock for extra cooling to exceed the thermal limits of the platform, you would at least have a way to connect an external GPU, high speed and high capacity storage and other peripherals.

    At this point in time I don't really need a modern ultrabook, I already have one from the 2009- the X200s. It's keyboard is far superior to any of the chiclet keyboards that are trending nowadays, I can easily get 5 hours of usage on my 9 cell battery on wifi (7 and more if I am just writing stuff) and it still is easy to carry around. The only thing I would love to have is a unified high speed interface to connect peripheral devices as the express card slot is too slow. Or, in other words, THUNDERBOLT! Since these ultrabooks have hardware limitations. I can't really do any serious work on them anyway, so why would I need more processing power than I have at the moment from a ultra low voltage Core 2 processor, if it is sufficient enough for the same usage model the ultrabook (as it is now implemented) is intended.

    TL/DR version- if there is no thunderbolt, then even a 4 year old ultraportable would suffice to do the ultrabooks job as the form factor and hardware of ultrabooks limit their usage model.
    Reply
  • peterfares - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    4GB RAM in a $1400 machine? PASS.
    Seriously, 16GB costs me $80 to buy from Amazon. It must cost ASUS less than that. I'll GLADLY pay the difference to have more RAM. Someone better make a transformer style windows 8 computer this fall with more than 4GB RAM. If they're all 4GB then I'm not buying.
    Reply
  • drfish - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    ...but I am still SHOCKED at the battery life you are able to get out of the W110ER... Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    An interesting side note is that I had a second W110ER from AVADirect and couldn't get diddly for battery life. Vivek tested the Monster 1.0, but I don't know what Eurocom did differently on that model that the stock W110ER didn't have. I tried updating BIOS, changing drivers, etc. all to no avail. Makes me wonder what happened.... Reply
  • drfish - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    I know there are a TON of people out there that would really appreciate an answer to this question. Its pretty popular for a niche product. Reply
  • beginner99 - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    ...most people I know find that under standard resolutions stuff is to small (eg 720p on a 15" screen). I'm more in the middle but on my X220 with 12.5" screen anything much higher than 720p would also for me be rather to small.

    Now what is the issue? The issue of course is windows. What I want is something like the mac book with retina display. High resolution without ultra small text and icons. Anyone using windows knows that adjusting DPI setting is basically a useless gimmick as a lot of applications will become less or unusable. Anyone knows if this is better in Win 8 in desktop?
    Reply
  • Super56K - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    From what I remember reading: The ARM side of Windows 8 does, but not the x86 full desktop. I honestly hope I'm mistaken and someone corrects me on this. Reply
  • jramskov - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    Do I understand it correctly that there's no versions with more than 4GB memory?

    I'll personally not buy a laptop with less than 8GB memory today, especially when it can't be upgraded.
    Reply
  • lemonadesoda - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    Silly position for power button. Cursor keys... which we use as much as the return key, are too small, proprietary SSD connector, scratched aluminium case. Thinkpad X1 Carbon wins except for their silly nipple and having the thinkpad logo where you right hand sits. It is annoying and collects dirt over time. The logo on the outside is enough. The second logo adds no value and does not increase sales of the thinkpad.

    Less is more.
    Reply
  • wedouglas - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    I bought 4 and they all had a pos sandisk drive. I have yet to find a single adata drive from Amazon or various best buys. Its hard to find value in a premium ultrabook when most people are getting bottom of the barrel ssds. Reply
  • zipz0p - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    Sorry to nitpick, but this is a pet peeve of mine!

    On page two, you write "...they’re actual profits..." instead of "...their actual profits..."

    Otherwise, I appreciate the reviews of ultrabooks. I continue to hope to see superb trackpad implementation from companies other than Apple and continue to be disappointed. The screen sounds very nice on this though.
    Reply
  • Luke2.0 - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    Page 5 on General Performance, the 3DMark06 graph is shown twice.
    I assume the graph for X264 benchmark second pass is missing, replaced with 3DMark06 instead.

    Anyway, a very good review, and thank you for checking the speakers quality!
    Reply
  • QChronoD - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    Was searching around on some of the random notebook forums and came across a few mentions of this machine. 14" 1600x900 matte screen, I7-3517u, GT650m, SSD+HD. Would love to see a review to figure out if the gaming performance would be worth the probably subpar display. Reply
  • QChronoD - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    While I'm throwing out suggestions, how about the HP ProBook 6575b? A10-4600 w/ 7660G graphics. It also has a 14" 1600x900 matte display, 8GB, 500GB HDD and DVD+/- drive. Best part is that it's only $830, so even with a 256SSD it'd be cheaper than most ultrabooks. Reply
  • simonm - Thursday, September 06, 2012 - link

    And yet they still plaster those annoying stickers over the front of it. Reply
  • welch - Sunday, September 09, 2012 - link

    If you are looking for the best Ultrabook under $1,000 you can get it here http://www.squidoo.com/ultrabook-under-1000 all brand listed. Hope that help. Reply
  • Sunburn74 - Monday, October 08, 2012 - link

    You can tell you SSD type without opening the box (specifically the brown box). Call asus' support line and give them the serial number on the outside. The technician will then tell you the ssd inside if you ask. Reply

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