Did you say you want a lightweight laptop with a good screen, good battery life, and the ability to get all your work done? Usually you need to spend a pretty penny for that or just go with a MacBook. But Asus has finally got something worthwhile for the Windows user. Meet the Zenbook UX305, the most value-for-money ultrabook you will find.
Specs: 13″ Matte Display (1920×1080 pixels) | Dual-core Intel Core M 5Y10c processor | Intel HD 5300 Graphics | 4GB DDR3 RAM | 256GB SSD | No optical drive | Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4, 3xUSB 3.0 ports, 1xmicroHDMI | 45 Whrs battery | 1.2 kg | Windows 8.1
Price: Rs. 49,999
What makes the UX305 so good?
The Zenbook ticks the right boxes. It looks and feels like a premium laptop, with a good weight balance for you to carry it around—in fact you could even do that with one hand while the lid open. The light weight will make you want to take it with you everywhere, but don’t worry, the aluminium unibody feels like it will get through the bumps of everyday life.
Along with that, the UX305’s battery outlasts most other Windows laptops. You will usually be able to get through a work day on this. On average, it lasted us about 9 hours, which is exceptional.
Plus, and we can’t stress this enough, it comes with a matte screen. The 13-inch screen has a Full HD display, but the seller is that it’s a non-glossy display. What this means is that if you tilt the laptop back a little or forward a little, the colours won’t distort wildly. Viewing angles on a matte screen are far better, and it’s much more usable outdoors during the day.
Finally, the performance is good enough for any professional who needs a laptop for work and basic entertainment. No, you can’t run GTA V or The Witcher 3 on this, and editing a 1080p video requires several strolls around your office while it finishes rendering, but the Intel Core M processor is fine for older games and basic multimedia.
Oh, the USB port on the right has 2A output to charge your phone faster!
What doesn’t work
It’s a consumer device, after all, so there are a few downers. None of these are a deal-breaker though.
For example, the sound output is quite weak, despite Asus touting the built-in Bang and Olufsen speakers. Unless you’re in a quiet room, you will want to use headphones or Bluetooth speakers.
We were also not impressed by the keyboard and trackpad. These are the main input sources, after all, since it is not a touchscreen. The keys feel good to type on, but since there is no back-lighting, you won’t be able to use them comfortably in a dark room. The trackpad is a little sticky at the start, you’ll need to use it for some time and get accustomed to it before your finger starts flying perfectly. It’s a longer-than-normal learning curve, especially with the amount of pressure required for non-tap clicks.
About 80 per cent of the time, the laptop’s performance will be good enough. It’s the remaining 20 per cent that you need to watch out for. When you’ve had Chrome open for a few days with 20 tabs in it, and you’re listening to music while simultaneously working on a heavy MS-Excel file, the Zenbook is going to cry for help and freeze. The culprit is mainly Google Chrome here, but if it’s an integral part of your workflow, then it’s the laptop that needs to cope, not the browser.
And whatever you do, remove all the bundled software that comes with it. Asus has pre-installed a lot of unnecessary programs which will keep bugging you for updates and registration, especially the anti-virus.
Should I buy it or not?
If your budget is anywhere around Rs 50,000 and you are looking for a Windows laptop for regular office work, watching movies, and browsing the web, your search ends here. The Zenbook UX305 is, without a doubt, the best ultrabook you can get. In fact, if you are browsing in the Rs 40,000-45,000 range, we would urge you to spend a little more and get this instead. For the price difference, you will get a machine that is twice the value of anything you buy otherwise.
The Asus Zenbook’s only real competitor is the MacBook Air, and if that is tempting you, then check out our Zenbook UX305 vs MacBook Air showdown to make up your mind.
Oh, and one more thing…
If you like Linux, then buy the Zenbook UX305, dump Windows and start using Ubuntu or Elementary OS. It runs like a dream and the whole package feels spiffy, while also boosting the average battery life by about 20%.