The new ASUS Zenbook 3 was with me briefly for a review, and using it reminds me fondly of the time I owned the old Macbook Air. Inheriting that compactness and weightlessness, the Zenbook 3 is a real pamper when I pack it in my sling bag at just 0.91 kg. It offers superb computing advantages: lightweight, powerful, lasting battery, durable. Though the overall material is different from Macbook, I prefer the Zenbook 3 spun-metal finish which feels less cold and appears more stylish.
I am not a fan of the keyboard, though. The keys are too large and felt that the keys are too spaced out for my liking. The key action is also not as snappy. I am also disappointed with the tiny up-down arrow buttons that I use very frequently, more so since the Zenbook 3 does not come with touch display. Saving grace: they are backlit which aids working in dim lighting conditions.
The 12.5-inch display is 1920 x 1080 resolution and looks great thanks to good contrast, only marred by the highly-reflective glass surface. The touchpad is adequately sensitive and integrated with a fingerprint sensor which can be used to unlock the ultrabook with Windows Hello. The review unit version stops at 3 failed attempts then proceeds to ask the user to use other unlock methods. I hope future updates can extend the number of retries, because I find myself getting locked out rather often due to accidental touches.
There are 4 speakers on the Zenbook 3, 2 of which are facing upwards – thank goodness. It produces loud and spatial sound staging, audio quality is sparkling at the highs, mids are suppressed, while bass is pretty much absent. The small speakers cannot handle high volumes, though, the higher frequencies crack under pressure. The ASUS AudioWizard tweaking of the audio presets, like music, movies, presentation, but the output is limited by the dynamic range capability.
Being such a thin and small ultrabook, ASUS takes reference from the new MacBook and removes all standard ports except one USB 3.1 Type-C port and 3.5mm jack. The retail unit includes an accessory that expands the ports to VGA display port, USB 3.0, and Ethernet LAN port. And if these are not enough, you can purchase the ASUS Universal Dock separately which works with the Zenbook 3.
Compared to the ASUS Transformer 3 Pro I reviewed a while back, the Zenbook 3 seems to be better in battery management – it does not drain that excessively, and the fan is not as noisy too. It is also lighter when factoring the keyboard.
The ASUS Zenbook 3 is a featherweight Windows ultrabook that looks desirable and eye-catching. Its distinct design details like spun-metal, gold trimmings on brand logo and the keyboard markings makes it stand out among the crowd. The need for external adapters for additional ports mean it is built for minimalist users on the go, but the universal USB Type-C is capable of supporting multiple ports. It is so portable that I have no excuses to not bring it wherever I go.
The review unit runs on premium specs and runs really smooth and fast. Latest 7th Gen Intel i7-7500U processor, 512GB PCIE Gen3 SSD, DDR3 16GB RAM, the UX390UA-GS048T retails in Singapore at S$2,598 with 2-year international warranty.