The Asus UX31 is the bigger half of the Zenbook line-up. With a 13.3″ form factor, it sits right up against the Macbook Air 13″ and the Acer Aspire S3. We already did the comparison between the Zenbook and the MBA at the 11.6″ category so we’ll do another one for the 13-inchers, this time with the UX31 and the Aspire S3.
Starting with the packaging, the box of the Asus Zenbook looks quite familiar. It’s the same one they used with the Asus Transformer and Asus Slider but certainly looks inspired from the MBA.
That sand-blasted, concentric-pattern finish comes in a dark-brown tint but the skies of El Nido apparently turned it to royal blue.
Like the Asus UX21, the Zenbook UX31 has got some pretty good specs under the hood.
Asus Zenbook UX31 specs:
13.3â€³ display @ 1600Ã—900 pixels
Intel Core i5 2557M 1.7GHz
Intel HD Graphics 3000
4GB DDR3 RAM
128GB SSD SandForce SF-2281
1 x USB 2.0 port
1 x USB 3.0 port
1 x micro-HDMI port
1 x mini-VGA port
SD/MMC card reader
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
Bang & Olufsen speakers
up to 7 hours battery life
The one we saw and tested at El Nido had a different configuration (Core i7, 256GB Sandisk SSD) so we can’t really take the WEI from that model a representative of the batch to be release to the public later this month.
In any case, we brought along the Aspire S3 just for comparison. It would have been better if we also had a 13-inch MBA with us to compare but the 11.6″ MBA was the closest thing I brought.
The Zenbook UX31 certainly looks thinner than the Aspire S3. That’s because the UX31 has a tapered edge while the S3 is flat from middle to edge. However, if you placed them on a flat surface, they both look the same. On the contrary, the thickest part of the UX31 measures 0.71″ while it’s only 0.68″ for the Aspire S3. That tear-drop design really does wonders on how we perceive thinness.
The UX31 is mostly made of aluminum alloy from the lid to the base, right up to the keyboard. The S3, on the other hand, has a combination of an aluminum lid and a plastic base.
The hinge design of the UX31 is similar to the MBA so the maximum lid opening is around 155-degrees while the Aspire S3 can go up to 170-degrees.
The ports on the UX31 are all placed on the left and right side while the Aspire S3 puts them all at the back (except the SD card reader which is on the right side).
Acer also cleverly introduced the hybrid HDD variant in the country, instead of the all-SSD model. This gives them a huge advantage in price positioning over the UX31 and the MBA.
Acer Aspire S3 specs:
13.3â€³ LCD display @ 1366Ã—768 pixels
Intel Core i5 2467M 1.6GHz dual-core
4GB DDR3 RAM
320GB SATA HDD + 20GB SSD
Intel HD Graphics 3000 w/ 128MB RAM
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0 + HSR
2-in-1 card reader
2 x USB 2.0 port
Windows 7 Home Premium
Between the two hardware configurations, we’ll give the Asus Zenbook additional points for the high screen resolution, faster SSD storage, USB 3.0 port and a bit faster CPU.
The Aspire S3 got additional points for having a full-sized HDMI port, bigger storage capacity and a much cheaper price tag (25% off of the UX31).
The UX31 didn’t also have a backlit keyboard, like the UX21 and the Aspire S3.
The debate over “speed vs. price vs. capacity” on SSD and HDD really depends on the individual. Some wanted speed over capacity and price and are willing to drop Php15k to Php20k additional just to get the SDD. Others are willing to sacrifice speed in favor of price and capacity.
I think this is where buyers will draw the line between the Aspire S3 and the Asus UX31.
Then there’s also the entry-level 13″ Macboor Air which, in my opinion, is the one Asus will be slugging it out in the market.
It’s got the same processor, amount of RAM and SSD capacity. The MBA gets points for the backlit keyboard and Thunderbolt while the UX31 got points for a massively high screen resolution and micro-HDMI port. The price difference is Php6,000 in favor of the Asus UX31.
Oh, and the Asus UX31 also comes with a really nice leather sleeve (probably costs about Php2k). In my opinion, the Asus UX31 looks a bit more cool than the MBA. Being an MBA user for about a year now and I can say I like the looks of the Zenbook better (but that’s just me). The absence of a backlit keyboard is a bit of a deal-breaker for me though.
You should start seeing the Asus Zenbook UX31 in retail stores by end of this month for a suggested retail price of Php59,995.