Today you can pick up the Asus UX31E for $699 from our favorite deal-a-day site, Woot.com. This is the top-end model (DH72) from the last generation of Ultrabooks (Sandy Bridge) with a big 256GB SSD and fast Core i7 processor, and comes nearly 54% off the retail price!
Asus UX31E-DH72 Specs:
- Intel Core i7-2677M CPU @ 1.8GHz
- 13.3 inch 1600×900 display
- 4GB of RAM
- 256GB SSD
- Ports: 1x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0, Micro HDMI, Mini VGA (adapter included), full SD, 3.5mm headphone
- WiFi b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0
- 0.3MP forward-facing webcam
- 1.3kg weight, 17mm thick (at thickest point)
- Windows 7 Home Premium
The Asus Zenbook series has been praised for great built quality and a very sleek package — the UX31E’s aesthetics definitely live up to the Ultrabook vision, it’s thin, light, and solid. Performance is respectable too even though the UX31E is using the older Sandy Bridge processor. It handles Adobe programs like Photoshop and Illustrator well and is capable of some light gaming. The UX31E is quiet and well cooled.
A few downsides to the UX31E… the keyboard is not very well made — it sometimes misses light keypresses which can be frustrating. The lack of ports is also a concern for someone who has lots of peripherals to hook up. In a desktop scenario, two USB ports will be taken up by a mouse and keyboard leaving no room for additional peripherals without a USB hub. The micro HDMI and mini VGA ports mean you’ll either need to lug an adapter with you for output, or buy a new cable and carry that with you. A mini VGA to full VGA adapter is included fortunately, as well as a USB to ethernet adapter for those who need to plug into a wired network.
Other than these shortcomings, the UX31E is a great bit of kit that gets at least 5 hours of battery life and has surprisingly good speakers. Usually I don’t pay attention to the audio claims of a laptop but I must admit that the UX31E has the best speakers of any laptop I’ve used — when I don’t feel like wearing my headphones I’m happy to pull out the plug and listen through the unit itself, something I’ve never been satisfied with by other laptop speakers.
Asus is pretty bad about keeping drivers up to date, so be sure to check our guide to automatically updating your Ultrabook graphics drivers to keep the UX31E in tip-top shape.
$699 is a deal when compared to the ~$1499 MSRP (54% off!) but there are plenty of well priced current-gen (Ivy Bridge) Ultrabooks worth taking a look at for that price. See the Sony VAIO T13 and Asus Vivobook S400, for instance.
For those looking for a fixed keyboard and the latest processors, check out the updated Asus UX31A which is essentially the same model with a better keyboard and the latest Ivy Bridge processors. You can also find it with touchscreen, full 1080p HD display, and a backlit keyboard (there’s also a sleek black color!).