Whether you like it or not, Microsoft's Windows 8 requires a touchscreen for optimal use around its controversial Modern UI interface. So is the touch followup to the acclaimed Asus Zenbook series any good?
Last year at Computex, Intel introduced Ultrabook brand which were a set of premium laptop specifications to push for sleeker and more innovative form factors, without compromising on battery life or performance. These Windows based offerings with 17W ULV CPUs and SSDs were designed to compete head on with Apple's uber successful MacBook Air concept, and used a high profile marketing campaign featuring stars like Megan Fox and Will.i.am. to paint the Ultrabook buyer as coffee sipping, hip and smug content creators.
While there were some notable successes, many Ultrabook models faced lackluster sales due to the use of bog standard glossy TN displays (especially those of the 16:9,1366×768 variety) and uninspiring industrial designs, not helped also by their above-average price tags in a bad economy. The overall situation was expected to improve with the introduction of Ivy Bridge (improved battery life and graphics) and, uhm… Windows 8, paving the way for convertible tablet form factors and touch screens.
ASUS has one of the more well-received Ultrabooks with their Zenbook line, no thanks to its sharp and beautiful all-aluminium chassis with Bang and Olufsen ICEpower audio, and later from their Prime models, a full HD 1920×1080 IPS+ panel even on the diminutive 11.6" UX21A. Today, we take a look at their latest 1.4kg creation with Windows 8 touch capabilities added – Zenbook Touch.
As a proud owner of the original first generation Sandy Bridge based Zenbook which I have used throughout the past year on my work and travels, I wanted to see if this was a worthwhile upgrade. Mind you, my own precious has seen many TSA checkpoints and other hostile locations, surviving a few accidental drops and even a coffee dunking on the keyboard. I'm proud to report that it has gone without a deep scratch or dent (its owner is quite a klutz), and this bodes well for our review unit today as it shares almost the same chassis design. Four rubber feet anchors the laptop to the surface that its on and raises the Z-height just enough for the air intake vents at the bottom.
This is how the internal layout looks like, which we will go through the later sections of the review.