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.
It was just last week that we got to take home the Acer Aspire S3, the first Ultrabook to go on sale here in the States. Unfortunately, it doesn’t live up to the pillars laid out by Intel: its performance trails similar machines, its battery craps out early and the design, while portable, is too chintzy to make it a bellwether for skinny Windows laptops. Our verdict, in a sentence, was that you’d be better off getting a MacBook Air, or at least considering other Ultrabooks — namely, ASUS’ line of Zenbooks.
As it turns out, one showed up on our doorstep just a few days later. In many ways, the UX31 is everything the S3 is not: it has a gorgeous all-metal design and comes standard with an SSD and 1600 x 900 display (not to mention, a case and two bundled adapters). And with a starting price of $1,099, it undercuts the entry-level (and similarly configured) MacBook Air by two hundred bucks. So is this the Ultrabook we’ve all been waiting for? We suggest pouring yourself a large beverage, settling into a comfy chair and meeting us past the break. We’ve got a lot to say on the subject.
We’d handled ASUS’ UX21 back at Computex, but we’d never gotten up close and personal with its larger brother, the UX31 — until now. We spotted the 13.3-inch aluminum beaut just chilling at the Ultrabook pavilion at Intel Developer Forum. With the same 0.67-inch profile as its smaller sibling, that larger footprint means it’s naturally a bit heavier (2.9 pounds), yet it’s available with the same Core i5 (or optional i7) innards. Expect more when the duo goes on sale later this month, but for now take a peek at our hand-on video after the break.