Asus Zenbook UX32VD review

A sleek but imperfect ultrabook

Asus Zenbook UX32VD
A nice little ultrabook

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With the rapid influx of new hardware specially designed to showcase the new Windows 8 operating system, it's easy to overlook a machine like the Zenbook UX32VD.

With its shiny metal body, attractive screen and bevy of connection ports, this is a pretty enticing ultrabook for anyone looking for a portable laptop that doesn't sacrifice too much power.

The trackpad is a bit too sensitive for our liking, but the comfortable backlit keyboard and 500GB HDD make up for it.

It's a shame that the discrete graphics card doesn't make a lot of difference to performance in the ZenBook. Perhaps with a bit of time, patience and overclocking, it might make this ultrabook sing, but straight out of the box it seems underwhelming.

Asus Zenbook UX32VD lid

We liked

The style, although it is very reminiscent of Apple's MacBook Air, is superb, with the precision etched concentric circles on the lid both subtle and striking.

The speakers, along with the Bang and Olufsen ICEpower technology, offer a sound better than you have a right to expect on a laptop this size. Sure, it's never going to beat the sound from proper desktop speakers or headphones, but it's still pretty good.

The keyboard is great to type on, and the laptop is certainly powerful enough to get through the majority of tasks put to it, although like any Ultrabook, you probably want to steer clear of intensive video editing.

We disliked

The trackpad is like a magnet for accidental brushes, sending cursors scattered across the screen and making typing a long review like this one a painstaking process. Whether it's too sensitive or too close to the keyboard is up for debate, but it can make the Zenbook tough to use.

Asus has also loaded this thing up with its own selection of bloatware. While it's not going to drag down performance significantly, it does have a tendency to change your computer's settings automatically, even after you adjust them to your preferences.

The mini VGA port really could have been a Thunderbolt - or at least a mini DisplayPort - connection. Given how far the ultrabook form factor is pushing away from the old style computing connections, VGA feels like a legacy port out of place on such a sleek machine.

Final verdict

In a sea of Windows 8 machines with funky swivel screens and striking designs, the sleek style of the Zenbook UX32VD may struggle to get noticed.

But awareness issues aside, this is a solid performing ultrabook at a reasonable price. The Core i7 version may be a better performance option, if you can manage to find one, but the i5 is still a decent laptop for users on the go.

Having spent the past decade editing some of Australia's leading technology publications, Nick's passion for the latest gadgetry is matched only by his love of watching Australia beat England in the rugby.