Asus zenbook ux21 review

At over £100 cheaper than the Apple MacBook Air, with 2GB more RAM and an almost identical chassis, the Asus Zenbook UX21 is a fantastic buy for anyone looking for an ultra-portable laptop.

Some will argue that £850 is too much for a laptop that is too small to be an effective primary machine, and will need to be used in conjunction with something more powerful.

We liked

The form and size of this petite portable laptop is mind-blowing, especially when you consider the Sandy Bridge processor that's inside.

You can play HD video and enjoy most tasks short of gaming and HD editing without coming across any issues, which genuinely offers an alternative to tablets such as the Asus Eee Pad Transformer.

The extras that Asus has packed into the box are also worth a special mention, and getting a thin protective sleeve and carry case for the extremely small charger add an extra bit of detail to this excellent all-round package.

We disliked

The problem we have with the Asus Zenbook UX21 is that few people would want to use this little laptop as their primary machine, due to the uncomfortable size and lack of connectivity options.

At £850, it seems like a very expensive addition to someone's portable armoury, and less versatile than its big brother, the Asus Zenbook UX31.

The trackpad also is also crossed off the Christmas card list, and while you do get used to it eventually, it seems designed to infuriate users who are starting out with this wonderful portable PC.

Final verdict

As a piece of modern laptop engineering, the Asus Zenbook UX21 is sublime. Only Apple has previously been able to make something this sleek, light, powerful and desirable, and for those who want to stick with Windows, this moment could not have come soon enough.

Any major faults are not with the Asus Zenbook UX21 itself, but with the merits of an 11.6-inch machine.

If you need something for long trips away, £850 seems steep when excellent 13-inch ultrabooks are available that could arguably be used as a primary machine. The Acer Aspire S3 Intel Core i5 version retails for just £699.

Up against a host of great tablets, including Asus' own Eee Pad Transformer Prime, it's hard to justify the outlay.

Despite this, the stunning power and portable body make this a great buy. As netbooks continue their rapid decline, this ultrabook could replace them, and with it show the world that laptops are here to stay.