This arrived on our doorstep a couple of weeks ago:
That, dear friends, is the all-new ASUS ZenBook UX305, an ultrabook that can best be described by the great Zohan's line: "silky-smooth."
It sure looks pretty, but does it have more than just good looks? We were intrigued by the shiny gizmo in front of us; good thing Google's our BFF.
So, we researched and found out that:
HOLY MOLY, THAT'S SOME REPUTATION!
Our curiosity then evolved into sheer anticipation. You really can't fault us for expecting big things from the UX305 given its accolades. And we found out that...it deserves all the praise it's currently getting. In fact, we dare say, that if you're looking for a thin-and-light notebook, this one's a damn good choice.
Now we do expect you to look for the reasons behind our lofty claims so, read on!
HANDSOME, YES IT IS
The very first thing that made us take notice of the UX305 was its gorgeous appearance. With its full metal frame and glossy exterior, it's the kind of gadget you want to show off just to say that you've made it big. No, seriously. We've actually seen strangers giving it a double take like they're looking at a pretty lady.
Another thing that made the UX305's facade stand out: Its gently-sloping edges give it an elegance many blocky notebooks lack. It's also only 1.23cm thick, making it among the world's thinnest laptops today. We also approve of the texture it has, specifically on the area where the keyboard rests: smooth but still with enough traction that you won't find your fingers slipping across it frequently (making the whole thing a tad easier to hold).
In accordance to ASUS' ZenBook tradition, the UX305's metallic lid is adorned with concentric circles for that "Zen" look. It doesn't go overboard though; this design element perfectly blends with the whole package and doesn't really stand out enough that it becomes the sole focus of our peepers, taking our attention away from the rest of the gadget.
We've told you how anorexic the UX305 is, but know that it's more than for show. This device is classified as an ultrabook which, by definition, is an ultrathin laptop measuring no more than 23mm thick. And being ultra-thin comes with a set of benefits, including the ability to fit nicely into backpacks, like so:
And that's with other stuff inside, including three FHM issues which, when combined, are actually thicker than the UX305. #ShamelessPlug
Anyway, the UX305 weighs just over a kilo; our backs and biceps barely noticed it while it was inside our man bag. And no, we don't lift, bro.
Simply put, it fulfills a major selling point for today's gadgets: portability.
IT DOESN'T FORCE YOU TO COMPROMISE (AS MUCH)
As always, the biggest question when it comes to ultrabooks is the performance. They're really not as powerful as their larger and heftier counterparts. All those shed grams and millimeters come with a price.
Here's where we really like to commend ASUS. The UX305, which is far from being one the most powerful notebooks around, is still able to deliver the kind of speed and computing we normally expect from a bigger multimedia laptop. It comes with an Intel Core M processor (the lightweight version of the Core i series) that's partnered with up to 8GB of RAM. This tandem enables it to multitask seamlessly.
It also has a 256GB solid-state drive (SSDs are the faster versions of run-of-the-mill hard drives) which speeds things up even more.
Hey, look at us getting some work done on it:
We decided to test it by running a shitload of browser tabs (minimum of 10) all at the same time, and it only slowed down when we've already opened 15—and that's with a music app and HD video (for testing purposes) in the background. And let's not forget that you usually won't put that much strain on a laptop, which gives you an idea of the performance you'll normally get from the UX305.
For those who dabble in photo-editing, the UX305 can also run heavy image software with ease:
We upgraded it to Windows 10 as well just to know if it's also future-proof. It seems it became even faster with Microsoft's latest operating system.
The UX305 is blessed with a 13.3-inch Full-HD display with IPS (in-plane switching) tech. The result: videos with the kind of clarity you'll be proud of. Thanks to IPS, you're also able to view things with minimal image quality loss at different angles.
We did mention that it's able to run Adobe Photoshop, even with the absence of a high-powered graphics card. The UX305 has in its place Intel HD 5300 Graphics, which is good enough for everyday visual tasks, and can run even a few mainstream games (e.g. DoTA 2, Heroes Of The Storm) on the side.
Let us clarify though that the UX305 is certainly not a gaming laptop, so don't expect it to run stuff like Crysis 3 or Witcher 3 at acceptable frame rates. But then again that shouldn't really matter much because, chances are, you won't be getting it to slay demons or bomb virtual enemies anyway.
NEW APPLE MACBOOK COMPARISONS
Comparisons with Apple's New MacBook—which is easily among the most popular ultrathins today—are inevitable. Is the UX305 faster, or vice-versa? We've played with the New MacBook in the past and we can tell you that when it comes to speed, both machines are pretty much even. A big reason is that they have very similar hardware (Intel Core M processor, 8GB of RAM, Intel HD 5300 Graphics).
However, there are at least a couple of areas where the UX305 trumps the New MacBook. For example, the former has no less than three USB 3.0 ports (the latter has zilch) which is already quite a feat given its slim frame. And you know that having more than one USB port is always a plus when it comes to connectivity and versatility. The UX305 also has one SD card reader which the New MacBook lacks.
Both have advertised battery lives of around nine to 10 hours. With real-world use though, the UX305 provides a bit more juice, churning out, on the average, eight hours (compared to the New MacBook's six to seven), based on our experience. And while it's superficial at best, the UX305 is also a tad slimmer (1.23 vs. 1.31 cm). It's not much, but it's still a noteworthy feat to be thinner than one of the thinnest notebooks around.
But the biggest advantage for the UX305 is...
ITS PRICE TAG!
Historically, ultrabooks are gizmos made for the one-percent of society, with price tags reaching P50,000 and (waaay) beyond. You'd think that for something that has the UX305's benefits, an SRP that will drain your bank account in a jiffy is to be expected.
It starts at P34,995!
Compare that to the New MacBook's P64,990 or the Dell XPS 13's (another popular ultrabook currently making buzz because of its stellar performance) P75,000 and you'll say "Yes!" and then ask "Why?"
We may never really know why it's priced that way, but does it even matter? Here is an ultrabook worthy of the big bucks being offered at a much lower price point compared to its kin. It's not more affordable because it sucks—this simple fact makes it a legit bargain. It actually exceeded our expectations.
So, for those looking for a portable notebook, don't look any further. There's a good chance the UX305 is what you're looking for.