The Ultrabooks are finally here and it looks like they’re really the wave of the future, just like Intel wanted. Most of the top computer manufacturers have already announced their models or are planning to do so in the following months, with the first Ultrabooks being already on sale.
Two of the best products in the niche are from the laptop giants, Lenovo (formerly IBM’s laptop division) and Asus (a long time computer parts manufacturer), and if you’re in the market for an ultra slim Ultrabook that looks great and has enough performance to replace your everyday work machine, the U300s and ZenBook UX31 should definitely be on your radar.
Exterior design and display
If you like the MacBook Air’s design, you’ll undoubtedly find the UX31 and/or U300s attractive, as well. Both of them clearly take inspiration from Apple’s well known ultraportable, but the Asus ZenBook incorporates some design decisions that make it more unique (whether that’s good or bad depends on your taste, though). Both laptops are extremely thin, and are made out of metal, making them sturdy and giving them a great feel (aluminum just feels great under your palms).
The ZenBook UX31 has an interesting lid with a radial stainless steel finish that attracts quite a lot of attention, while the inside of the laptop features straight, almost rough corners and a clean design. The Lenovo U300s is really similar to the MacBook on the inside and outside – it has the same aluminum lid and clean aluminum finish on the inside – even the power button is round and located on the side! The big touch pad adds to the similarities, as well.
The displays are different, though – if you want the best, you’ll just have to go with the UX31 and its 1600×900 pixels – the resolution is perfect on the 13.3 inch screen and it lets you do your work better and faster than the 1366×768 pixels on the U300s. The viewing angles, colors, brightness and contrast are comparable on both laptops, so if you don’t care for the resolution, either Ultrabook is fine.
Hardware features and performance
Both the Asus ZenBook UX31 and the Lenovo U300s have the usual selection of ports that include two USB ports, HDMI out, a unified audio in/out jack and an SD card slot – that should be enough for most people, but of course, it’s not really comparable with the bigger laptops on the market. The U300s also supports WiDi for connecting a display or projector wirelessly – a great feature, but we’ll have to wait until the standard gets more popular and monitors/projectors with it actually start being released (or you could always get an adapter).
The performance of both Ultrabooks should be about the same, although the UX31 uses slightly faster processors – the U300s comes with either a Core i5-2467M or Core i7-2667M, while the UX31 gets 0.10 GHz more with the Core i5-2557M and the Core i7-2677M. Both laptops get up to 4 GB DDR3 RAM (although if they use the standard SODIMMs, you could theoretically use an 8 GB module, as well), and an 128 GB SSD – enough for most tasks and everyday use. The graphics are integrated into the processor, so you benefit from more battery life (about 7 is quoted for both laptops), but lose in graphics performance, of course.
Pricing and Availability
The pricing for the ZenBook UX31 starts at $1099 for the i5 configuration, while the U300s is actually higher at $1195, but I’m sure that you can get either for much lower with a discount and/or rebate, which will undoubtedly be present in stores. The Ultrabooks should be available this December, so they can make a great Christmas present for anyone who needs a new laptop.