It will come as no surprise that I work for a living (In a future post I will outline this work in some detail). It was with great joy that I tackled the job of selecting a new laptop to do this wonderful work with. Some people love cigars, others love dogs, I happen to really enjoy gizmos. Especially well made, thin, light, metallic gizmos.
I narrowed my selection down to two viable options that fit my needs, the MacBook Air and the ASUS Zenbook. My criteria were screen resolution, battery life, build quality, and portability, not necessarily in that order. Both of these machines passed with flying colors and met every criteria. The Apple had a better keyboard with backlighting but the ASUS had a higher resolution screen. From everything I could tell it was a solid draw. They are even manufactured in the same factory although Apple is working to put an end to that.
In researching them it ultimately came down to dreaded Microsoft. I have no choice but to run Windows apps as a part of my daily routine. This is very doable in the Apple environment but it uses quite a large amount of memory running Windows in a virtual machine. With both devices maxing out at 4gb I felt like I had to go with the Zenbook.
When I went to a retailer to physically compare the Air and the Zenbook I was only able to actually handle the 11″ version of the Zen. I had a few misgivings ergonomically with both machines and I was ecstatic when I received the 13″ version of the Zen and found that it did not have the same feel. The front edges of the unit are not as sharp and the wrist area is much larger. I have been using the machine for a week now and I honestly feel it is the best laptop I have ever used. You can read a review from PCMag here.
I will not rehash what can be found on other reviews, I would like to focus on a couple of important points that make this laptop great instead of just good. The first is heat management. Long a bane of ultraslim laptops, heat can make a unit unusable for long periods. ASUS appears to have completely solved the issue in a very innovative and sustainable way. At the top of the unit is a full 12″ vent through which the heat escapes. There are some minor air inlets in the bottom of the unit but the majority of the heat is forced out the large vent. The ingenuity of this means the heat’s natural tendency to rise will help keep the unit cool. Side venting has always seemed like a bad and ineffective idea to me, now that is confirmed.
The second great feature is the metal keyboard. Some have panned the unit for having a keyboard that requires a little firmer typing to be effective. I have always been annoyed by plastic keys getting shiny and slick to the feel with use. Metal keys will be much less prone to that for obvious reasons. Also, the natural reflective quality of the metallic keys allows better low light viewing without a backlight. I am typing this article outdoors at night by the light of the screen. I am having no trouble finding the correct keys. I still miss the backlit keyboard, but I also like saving my battery.
I am really thrilled with my new tool, ok, maybe it is a toy also. I will be watching to see if it eats into my use of the ASUS Transformer I rely on. Tablet or Ultrabook? I really will not know the answer to that question until the newness wears off and I am choosing the correct tool for the job I have at hand. So far the Zenbook and the Transformer have me believing that ASUS has gone from a middle of the road manufacturer to a high end powerhouse in a short amount of time. I cannot wait for the next round of products.