About a year ago, when Ultrabooks were first starting to go on sale, ASUS was one of the first out of the gate with some lightweight, Intel-approved ultraportables. Since then, it’s released a handful of iterations, including redesigned models with improved keyboards and sharper screens. That’s a lot for a 12-month period, but there’s one area where it fell behind: it tended to ignore larger-screened ultraportables, even as its competitors started selling models with 14- and 15-inch screens. That changed today, as the company announced three new Zenbooks, the 14-inch UX42VS and the 15-inch UX52VS and U500VZ, all of which will go on sale next month. Though the company hasn’t issued granular pricing for each possible configuration, we know that prices in the US will range from $699 at the low end all the way up to $2,000.
So what do these have to offer, aside from a larger footprint? For starters, the UX42VS weighs 1.9kg (4.19 pounds) and has a chassis that whittles down to 6mm. It makes room for an optical drive, unlike ASUS’ smaller Zenbooks, and features NVIDIA GT645M graphics with 1GB of dedicated video memory. Like any other ultaportable worth its salt, it will be offered with Core i3, i5 and i7 processors, though this guys steps up to 6GB of RAM and up to 1TB of hybrid hard drive storage.
Moving on, the 15-inch UX525VS (pictured) has a Core i5 or i7 Ultrabook-grade CPU, up to 10GB of memory (!) and up to 1TB in hybrid hard drive storage. The graphics card is the same 645M as on the 14-inch model. As for the U500VZ, it isn’t an Ultrabook at all, as it has a standard-voltage, quad-core Core i7 processor. Other specs include 8GB of memory, a 1080p display and a beefier GT650M GPU, this time with 2GB of video memory. Despite the horsepower, though, it weighs in at a relatively light 2kg (4.4 pounds) and measures 6mm thick. Finally, wrapping things up, ASUS still plans to sell touchscreen versions of its 11- and 13-inch Zenbook Prime Ultrabooks. No word on availability for any of these, but we’ll follow up with more details as they come in.
It was only a matter of time before ASUS refreshed its line of Ultrabooks with Intel’s new Ivy Bridge chips, but the truth is, the company needed to improve a little more than just the CPU model number. If you recall, the Zenbook UX31 ushered in a modern metal design and unbeatable speed, but our enthusiasm waned after spending a week with the flat keyboard and temperamental touchpad.
Well, friends, it looks like Chairman Jonney Shih and co. were listening: the outfit is about to bring four of its leaked Zenbook Prime laptops to the US. These include the 11-inch UX21A, which you see up there, along with the 13-inch UX31A, UX32A and the UX32VD — essentially, the UX31A with discrete graphics. Though different configurations are bound to vary, they all bring retooled, backlit keyboards, refined trackpads and, of course, Intel’s third-generation Core processors. And while the lower-end UX32A is stuck with 1366 x 768 resolution, every other model — yes, even the tiny UX21A — will be offered with a 1080p IPS display.
ASUS Zenbook Primes with 1080p IPS panels and (probably) Ivy Bridge are real, coming to Taiwan in June
We’ve already seen spec sheets suggesting that ASUS’s 11.6-inch and 13.3-inch Zenbooks are being fattened up for a major update, but now Engadget Chinese has glimpsed the new devices in their cold aluminum flesh. Tentatively called Zenbook Primes, or the UX21A and UX31A respectively, they both have 1920 x 1080 IPS panels with a matte finish and excellent viewing angles (please, ignore the dumb 1024 x 768 screen-saver in the pic, it doesn’t do it justice). Judging from the fact that ASUS refused to let us go hands-on in case we identify the internals, we can be pretty confident that these beauties are running on next-gen ULV Ivy Bridge processors, which — unlike their more powerful brethren — have yet to be formally announced. We asked if there’d be room for discrete graphics, such as one of NVIDIA’s new Kepler mobile GPUs for Ultrabooks, and were told that “anything is possible.” Responses were equally vague when it came to global availability, because apparently the devices are awaitng clearance from Intel. All we know is that they should be out in Taiwan in June, likely with similar price tags to their predecessors.