ASUS just announced its first line of Ultrabook PCs under the new Zenbook brand at a press event in NYC. There are a total of five models in the Zenbook lineup ranging in price from $999 to $1499 and available in both 11.6-inch and 13.3-inch display configurations. Based on specs alone, the Zenbook lineup is very similar to Apple's 2011 MacBook Air. Dimensions are almost identical, although ASUS' 11 is a little heavier than Apple's while its 13 is a little lighter. The entire Zenbook lineup ships with 4GB of DDR3 memory and all of the systems use the same ULV Sandy Bridge parts that Apple uses in the MacBook Air. Battery capacities are identical to the Air models at 35Whr and 50Whr depending on the chassis size. ASUS does claim lower standby numbers than Apple (up to 10 days vs. up to 30 for the MBA), but that's likely an OS limitation. The Zenbooks typically give you a larger SSD than Apple (and 6Gbps on top of that) as well as a single USB 3.0 port to complement its USB 2.0 port. ASUS claims a 2 second resume time for all of the Zenbook models, presumably from a suspend-to-RAM state.

ASUS Zenbook Lineup
  UX21E-DH52 UX21E-DH71 UX31E-DH52 UX31E-DH53 UX31E-DH72
CPU i5-2467M i7-2677M i5-2557M i5-2557M i7-2677M
OS Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Display 11.6-inch 1366 x 768 13.3-inch 1600 x 900
Memory 4GB DDR3
Storage 128GB 6Gbps SSD 256GB 6Gbps SSD
Wireless Connectivity 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0
Battery 35Whr (5+ Hours)
up to 7 day standby
50Whr (7+ Hours)
up to 10 day standby
Camera 0.3MP
Audio Bang and Olufsen ICEpower & ASUS SonicMaster Tech
I/O 1 x USB 2, 1 x USB 3, 1x audio/mic, 1x microHDMI, 1x miniVGA 1 x USB 2, 1 x USB 3, 1 x audio/mic, 1 x microHDMI, 1 x miniVGA, 1 x SD Card reader
Dimensions 11.7 x 7.7 x 0.11-0.67" 12.8 x 8.8 x 0.11-0.71"
Weight 2.43 lbs 2.86 lbs
USA MSRP $999 $1199 $1099 $1349 $1499

The first Zenbooks will be available for order in the US starting October 12th. I've included some head to head comparisons between the various Zenbook models and their MacBook Air counterparts below. For the most part the specs aren't all that different. I don't expect that there are a ton of users who cross-shop similarly priced Macs and PCs, the Zenbook simply looks like a good option for those users who want a MacBook Air but prefer Windows 7.

ASUS' 13-inch offerings do have a higher resolution display than their Apple counterparts (1600 x 900 vs 1440 x 900). We're still waiting to hear back on the panel technology used in the Zenbooks, but I would be surprised if it was anything more than plain-old-TN like the Macs. Compared to the upgraded MBAs however, ASUS' Zenbooks do offer higher clocked CPUs at the same price point.

ASUS Zenbook U31E vs. Apple 13-inch MacBook Air
  UX31E-DH52 UX31E-DH53 Base 13-inch MBA
CPU i5-2557M 1.7GHz/2C/3MB i5-2557M 1.7GHz/2C/3MB i5-2557M 1.7GHz/2C/3MB
Display 13.3-inch 1600 x 900 13.3-inch 1600 x 900 13.3-inch 1440 x 900
Memory 4GB DDR3 4GB DDR3 4GB DDR3
Storage 128GB 6Gbps SSD 256GB 6Gbps SSD 128GB 3Gbps SSD
Wireless Connectivity 802.11 b/g/n 802.11 b/g/n 802.11 a/b/g/n
Battery 50 Whr 50 Whr 50 Whr
Camera 0.3MP 0.3MP 0.3MP
I/O 1 x USB 2, 1 x USB 3, 1 x audio/mic, 1 x microHDMI, 1 x miniVGA, 1 x SD Card reader 1 x USB 2, 1 x USB 3, 1 x audio/mic, 1 x microHDMI, 1 x miniVGA, 1 x SD Card reader 2 x USB 2, 1 x audio/mic, 1 x Thunderbolt, 1 x SD Card reader
Dimensions 12.8 x 8.8 x 0.11-0.71" 12.8 x 8.8 x 0.11-0.71" 12.8 x 8.94 x 0.11-0.68"
Weight 2.86 lbs 2.86 lbs 2.96 lbs
MSRP $1099 $1349 $1299

 

ASUS Zenbook U31E vs. Apple 13-inch MacBook Air
  UX31E-DH72 Upgraded 13-inch MBA
CPU i7-2667M 1.8GHz/2C/4MB i5-2557M 1.7GHz/2C/3MB
Display 13.3-inch 1600 x 900 13.3-inch 1440 x 900
Memory 4GB DDR3 4GB DDR3
Storage 256GB 6Gbps SSD 256GB 3Gbps SSD
Wireless Connectivity 802.11 b/g/n 802.11 a/b/g/n
Battery 50 Whr 50 Whr
Camera 0.3MP 0.3MP
I/O 1 x USB 2, 1 x USB 3, 1 x audio/mic, 1 x microHDMI, 1 x miniVGA, 1 x SD Card reader 2 x USB 2, 1 x audio/mic, 1 x Thunderbolt, 1 x SD Card reader
Dimensions 12.8 x 8.8 x 0.11-0.71" 12.8 x 8.94 x 0.11-0.68"
Weight 2.86 lbs 2.96 lbs
MSRP $1499 $1599

 

ASUS Zenbook U21E vs. Apple 11-inch MacBook Air
  UX21E-DH52 Base 11-inch MBA
CPU i5-2467M 1.6GHz/2C/3MB i5-2467M 1.6GHz/2C/3MB
Display 11.6-inch 1366 x 768 11.6-inch 1366 x 768
Memory 4GB DDR3 2GB DDR3
Storage 128GB 6Gbps SSD 64GB 3Gbps SSD
Wireless Connectivity 802.11 b/g/n 802.11 a/b/g/n
Battery 35 Whr 35Whr
Camera 0.3MP 0.3MP
I/O 1 x USB 2, 1 x USB 3, 1 x audio/mic, 1 x microHDMI, 1 x miniVGA 2 x USB 2, 1 x audio/mic, 1 x Thunderbolt
Dimensions 11.7 x 7.7 x 0.11-0.67" 11.8 x 7.56 x 0.11-0.68"
Weight 2.43 lbs 2.38 lbs
MSRP $999 $999

 

ASUS Zenbook U21E vs. Apple 11-inch MacBook Air
  EX21E-DH71 Upgraded 11-inch MBA
CPU i7-2667M 1.8GHz/2C/4MB i5-2467M 1.6GHz/2C/3MB
Display 11.6-inch 1366 x 768 11.6-inch 1366 x 768
Memory 4GB DDR3 4GB DDR3
Storage 128GB 6Gbps SSD 128GB 3Gbps SSD
Wireless Connectivity 802.11 b/g/n 802.11 a/b/g/n
Battery 35 Whr 35Whr
Camera 0.3MP 0.3MP
I/O 1 x USB 2, 1 x USB 3, 1 x audio/mic, 1 x microHDMI, 1 x miniVGA 2 x USB 2, 1 x audio/mic, 1 x Thunderbolt
Dimensions 11.7 x 7.7 x 0.11-0.67" 11.8 x 7.56 x 0.11-0.68"
Weight 2.43 lbs 2.38 lbs
MSRP $1199 $1199

 

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  • Stanly.ok - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    MacBook Air 13.3-inch display is 1440 by 900, not 1366 by 768 Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    Fixed :) Reply
  • SquattingDog - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    Also, you may want to bold the fact that the Zenbooks have USB 3.0 + USB 2.0 vs 2x USB 2.0, and 1600x900 vs 1440x900 on the Macbook 13" line-up.

    I am, however, skeptical that the Asus Zenbooks will actually have the same kind of battery life, given that Windows 7 is not quite as power-friendly as MacOSX (although it is still very good vs the operating systems of yesteryear).
    Reply
  • ImSpartacus - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    Those aren't quite as cut and dry as the Storage, RAM and CPU differences.

    Some people might like 16:10 screens regardless if 1600x900 is simply superior to 1440x900.

    Some might like Thunderbolt more than USB 3.0, or Mini DisplayPort over Micro HDMI.

    Most would agree with you, but I think Anand is trying to limit himself to absolutely universal superiorities.
    Reply
  • Solandri - Wednesday, October 12, 2011 - link

    If the displays had a similar number off pixels like 1280x800 vs 1366x768 I'd agree with you. But with a 1600x900 display, you can cover the left and right sides with black tape to get a 16:10 1440x900 display.

    Also, is it correct that the UX31E has a USB 1 port? I first assumed it was a typo, but it shows up on every chart.

    And is the memory integrated or upgradeable?
    Reply
  • dacramer - Thursday, October 13, 2011 - link

    @SquattingDog

    In my experience, Windows 7 is as power friendly for most things as OSX. If you look at Anand's latest MBP review and compare battery life to similarly spec'd Windows 7 machines you will see battery life is proportional to battery capacity doing similar things such as web browsing. The difference is that battery capacity is usually 15-20% higher on MBPs.

    With Ultrabooks/MBA they have the same capacity. I bet they get the same battery life too.
    Reply
  • quiksilvr - Wednesday, October 12, 2011 - link

    Also, the upgraded 11 inch MBA in the bottom table is the wrong price. It should be $1349, not $1199. Reply
  • quiksilvr - Wednesday, October 12, 2011 - link

    And the upgraded 13" MBA table is wrong too. The 13" MBA is $1699, not $1599. Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Wednesday, October 12, 2011 - link

    Thanks - fixed :)

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • hardwareguy - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    Are there any manufacturers working on ultrabooks with bigger screens (or higher rez), or does that not fit into the super small ultrabook recipe? Reply

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