Zenbook Prime 1080p IPS Display Bests MacBook Pro 1800p Display in Contrast Ratio

Posted on 14 June 2012 by

UX21A Zenbook Prime next to original Zenbook 21E - Courtesy AnandTech

An analysis of the new MacBook Pro with retina dispay by AnandTech reveals that, despite being lower resolution, the Zenbook Prime UX21A’s 1080p IPS display still holds its own in the contrast ration department.

Anand vaunts the MacBook Pro with retina display’s impressive screen saying,  “the MacBook Pro’s Retina Display is the first IPS based panel Apple has ever used in a MacBook. Viewing angles are much improved, as are black levels” and, “everything is ridiculously crisp”. Still testing shows that, while the UX21As display may have less than half the pixels, it outperforms the MacBook Pro with retina display in contrast ratio.

Contrast ratio is the difference between the brightest white that a display can show and the darkest black. This is an essential metric for display performance. For instance, on the previous generation of Zenbook, the UX21E/UX31E, the non-IPS displays score low in contrast ratio and are really quite awful for media viewing despite having a high brightness. The newer IPS display represents a massive jump in contrast ratio and overall display quality. Here is AnandTech’s findings:

Anand said of the Zenbook Prime UX21A’s display, “it’s easily the best display I’ve ever seen ASUS use and arguably one of the best displays ever deployed in a notebook, much less one as small as the UX21”, though this was prior to the announcement of Apple’s MacBook Pro with retina display. Since then, factoring in screen size and resolution, Anand has changed his tune to, “I was pleased when ASUS introduced a 1080p IPS panel in the new Zenbook Prime. I am even happier with the Retina Display in the next-generation MacBook Pro. I still need to clock in more hours on the new panel but it’s been amazing thus far.”

It’s great to see that the UX21A display holds its own, especially considering that the UX21A will likely be priced well below Apple’s $2199 starting price for the MacBook Pro with retina display. Now if only Asus would get the Zenbook Primes out the door and into customers hands!

  • Andrew

    The UX32VD is already out in Germany, at least one person already got the shipment (http://forum.notebookreview.com/asus/659073-ivy-bridge-zenbook-fhd-ips-screen-ux21a-ux31a-ux32a-ux32vd-42.html##). Any info on the UX31A again… ?

  • MP

    Agreed! I thought they would already be out by now… And yeah, quite impressive that ASUS’ screens are that good for the pretty modest price that they are suspected to ask for them.

    • jojo

      lol… modest price for the ux21a / ux31a?

      remember when people were bithin about apple being to expensive… now the same prices are “modest”

  • gif

    Anyone know what 11.6″ ultrabook have the smallest bezels? I’m hoping the Zenbook isn’t it because those are huge.

    • MP

      I looked at the ux31 and ux21 sandy bridge version the other day in a store, and while I agree that the bezel looks huge on pretty much all photos it’s not that bad in real life. That said, it certainly could be smaller…

    • esteban

      I’m interested in this too. While it does make the 11.6″ notebook look cheap and ugly, I’m more concerned about the footprint of the device. I’ve looked the MBA in person and while it’s thin, it had the same footprint as other ~1″ thick 13.3″ notebooks which includes the old black or white MacBook.

      Thin is nice and all but we’re deep into the territory of marginal returns and I’d gladly sacrifice thinness for smaller height and width dimensions.

  • Nick

    Is it supposed to be released late June? I’m in need of a new ultrabook and have no idea if I should buy the MB Air or this right now

    • I don’t think there’s been an official announcement of the release date, but Chippy mentioned late June as a guess on another thread.

    • MP

      I’m not anti Apple by any means – happy iPhone and iPad owner here – but why on earth would you buy this iteration of the mba? At least to me the update was quite underwhelming. (same with iOS6 btw, but that’s another story).

      I suspect that the next Air will be a bigger update, but until then I’d go with one of the other great options out there. Just wait a few weeks, they are bound to come out at any time.

    • Steefan

      Look at post #9 and #10, for an idea of the release date :)

  • Adam

    Asus ux31a (i7,256 SSD) will be available on 22nd June, at least in Poland. It costs 6599 PLN including tax which is around 1918 dollars. Nice!!! I’m hoping to see the price drop ’cause I’d really like to buy it. Well, I’d go with i5, 128 SSD version for obvious reasons.

    • Steefan

      Just extra info about release date and price for those who’s interested. UX31A with the Core i7 will be released the 20th of June in Denmark at a price around 1780 US Dollars including danish tax (25%). Date and price has been confirmed by Samsung.

      • heh

        So does Samsung also have some info on the Acer S7? :)

      • Nick

        Sources? I’d hate to pay that international shipping and have it come out in the us/canada a week later

  • Adam

    Will you review Asus ux31a?

  • timo

    Got it! The ux31a is at my lap at this moment. Great looks, great performance at 1400 euro in the Netherlands.
    I really love the screen. No glare, crystal and crisp. It’s fantastic.
    Instant on works as it should. 20 days of standby…

    Hope it’ll be available in all countries soon for you all. Meanwhile, I’m enjoying it every second.

    • MP

      The 256Gb version won’t be available in Sweden for some reason I can’t comprehend, but it might be possible to get it in Denmark. The keyboard there should be the same, or at least very similar.

      I read that some guy had problems with bleeding from the screen. Have you noticed anything on yours?

      • timo

        Bleeding from the screen? Can you tell more about it? The screen looks perfect, no problems

  • Adam

    Could you tell me something more about temperatures it generates? Does it overheat i.g. during watching a movie, surfing the Internet? Did you buy Asus ux31a with 256 SSD?

    • timo

      After 10 minutes of watching 2 movies at once, I believe the laptop is relatively cool. The warmest part is at the back in the middle of the laptop.
      Yes I got the 256 GB SSD.

      • Robert

        Timo this sounds very good, is it silent enough ? how do you like the speakers ? Congratulations .. i hope i get my ultrabook real soon.

    • timo

      Can’t reply to Robert, but the laptop is complete silent, except for some keys; some make a little noise, but that will fade I guess in time.
      The speakers are ok. I wouldn’t use it for a danceparty :) but it’s nice and ok enough to listen music and movies.

  • Robert

    thanks alot timo:) for me its between the samsung series 9 or the the Asus ux31a :) chippy reviewed the samsung series 9 its great but for the same price you can get the Asus with higher specs:) so I am very much leaning to this one .. it would be nice to see chippy having a chance to do a review of the zenbook prime .. if not soon i might get it soon anyway:) Tino you really tempt me to order mine soon lol:;) enjoy your great new zenbook prime!!:)

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  • John

    Does anyone know when the Asus Zenbook Prime UX21a i7 will be in the United States? I need to buy something before a long trip at end of August.

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