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Asus Zenbook UX303LA Review

Asus Zenbook UX303LA
The Asus Zenbook UX303LA

Asus Zenbook UX303LA Review

The latest model in the Zenbook UX series review, the Asus Zenbook UX303LA, looks great, thanks to the refined design and new colour scheme, but what's it like to use as a daily laptop?

This is a superb laptop - it looks and feels very premium, plus it has zippy performance and a long-life battery - everything you want from a laptop.

We fully tested the Asus Zenbook UX303LA, of the Zenbook UX series. For details on other models in the series, please see the bottom of the review.

What is it?

This is a 13.3-inch Ultrabook laptop running Windows 8, with a Core i7 processor, 6 GB of memory and 128 GB solid state drive. While the solid state drive may have a limited capacity in comparison to a regular hard drive, it's offset by the fast startup and access times, plus lower power consumption.

What's it great for?

The UX303LA is a jack-of-all-trades. From the effortless multitasking to fast startup times, this laptop won't keep you waiting. It's so light that you can carry it around all day, and it's comfortable to use for extended periods of time.

How long does the battery last?

As mentioned, battery life for this model is fantastic. Post-test, we recorded separate times of seven hours for both the video playback and web browsing via wi-fi. This means, you'll be able to work all day without worrying about where the nearest power socket is.

What's it like to use?

Like similar Ultrabooks, the UX303LA is constructed of aluminium and tapers to a thin edge at the front of the laptop. The exterior of the laptop features the iconic spun metal finish that is synonymous with the Zenbook design. At 1.4kg, it's slightly heavier than more expensive rival Ultrabooks, but you'll barely notice the difference.

There are two different screen types available for this laptop and the model we tested came with a 1,600x900 resolution, matte surface screen. It's bright with good, crisp colours. The secondary option available is a Full-HD touchscreen with IPS (In Plane Switching). This means, no matter what angle you view the screen from, you're always going to see it with full contrast and no loss of colour.

We absolutely loved the keyboard and touchpad for this laptop. Clearly, Asus has stuck with the same designs from their previous models - as the saying goes, if it isn't broke, don't fix it. The keys are light and responsive, and encourage rapid typing. We experienced no issues during our typing test, resulting in spot-on typing accuracy. The keys aren't back-lit in the model we tested but Asus supports this as an optional extra. The touchpad is equally as impressive, with a large and responsive surface.

Just like other models in the Zenbook range, the UX303LA also comes supplied with a small cover slip to keep your laptop protected when you're on the move. Due to the slim design, Asus has chosen to leave out some of the bulkier connection ports; however, this has been remedied with the inclusion of additional connector dongles. The dongles that are included with this laptop are DisplayPort to VGA, and USB to ethernet.

In terms of built-in connection options, the UX303LA has: 3 x USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, and an SD card reader. Add in the connections via the dongles, and there are plenty of options available. Additionally, this laptop also supports 802.11ac, the latest wi-fi standard, and Bluetooth for wireless connections.

Is there anything I should watch out for?

As with most Windows-based laptops, manufacturers commonly include a whole bunch of extra software already installed, and this model is no exception. Some of the software may be useful but it's commandeering precious hard drive space and memory. Uninstall any you don't want as soon as possible to free up some system resources.

Similar to other Ultrabook models, this laptop doesn't feature a DVD drive. We recommend picking up an external USB DVD drive for around £20 online, if you keen to watch DVD movies on your laptop.

Is there anything else I should know?
The speakers also surprised us with the UX303LA. Usually, slim and light laptops supply weak and thin sounding audio but the Sonic Master-branded speakers produced punchy and vibrant sounding audio.

Should I buy it?

Yes. This is a splendid laptop, with good looks and specifications. Throw in the rigid build quality and all-day battery life, and this laptop is hard to pass up, especially for the price.

The Zenbook UX301LA has many of the same specifications but it features a 256 GB solid state drive and 8 GB of memory. The UX302LA also has 8 GB of memory, in addition to a 512 GB solid state drive - better than the 128 GB storage capacity of the UX303LA and sufficient for most people, but the compromise is that it has a higher price tag.

Pros: Fantastic screen quality, all-day battery life, aesthetically pleasing, supplied with a cover slip, comfortable keyboard

Cons: A significant amount of unwanted software is installed

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