First of, a dedication to my previous laptop, the HP tx2001au.
After a year it started to show signs of “old age” (blue screening, graphics problems, etc.) and finally, 2 years later, it died. I guess I should mention that I did help it out a bit by pulling it apart and accidentally damaging the display connection [err.. whoops].
It was having problems with its battery which meant it had a battery life of 1 minute, so was essentially a lighter desktop. But rather than spending money on a new battery I decided to get a new laptop once it would inevitably die. It served me very well and I continue to have fond memories of it blue screening, it will be missed… not!
Anywho, I’ve been on the hunt for a new laptop for development and travel and was very keen to check out what the new Ultrabooks have to offer, a lot has changed in 2 years.
My main requirements were:
- Full HD display (pixel power)
- Decent enough battery life (4 hours+)
- Screen Size of around 13″ to 15″
- Enough space to be used as a storage device when travelling
My search quickly landed me a choice of either the Sony VAIO S or the ASUS Zenbook UX32VD. There are other options out there, but these were the stand-outs for me.
The Sony VAIO S is heavily discounted (as of the time of this post) as a run-out model and has some nice specs for the price ($799 + postage), however I had worries about its size, battery life and I wanted something ASAP (the expected delivery time was 2 weeks). I’d still love to get my hands on this one with the external slim battery (in case Sony’s listening, he he).
I think in the end I was always really after an Ultrabook from the start.
So then, no surprise, I got the ASUS Zenbook UX32VD and after nearly a week of use I’m very happy with my choice. Retail price is just under $1,600, so substantially more than the Sony VAIO S.
Notably I went with the R4001V version which has the 500GB hybrid HDD, so it is a bit thicker than the Zenbook Prime, but not by much and the HDD can be easily upgraded to a SSD once the price of those go down enough that it’s viable to get a 500GB SSD (probably 512GB based on the current trend of SSD sizes).
The display is epic and clear, I don’t know how I used to work on anything smaller. Battery life seems very good so far. It also looks very nice, I really like the brush metal finish and slim design.
The lightness of this thing scare me, I was definitely not impressed with the “netbooks” as in my view they are overpriced and underpowered, though some might have found value in those.
The audio quality is superb and I was rather surprised the first time I heard some audio played through the speakers, definitely impressed.
I’ve spent most of my time getting all the Windows updates and programs that I need installed (Visual Studio, Paint.Net, an Office suite (will be trying out LibreOffice for the first time)).
An the interesting thing is not having a DVD drive, that was easily solved with the LiteOn eTAU108 and made me realise more just how far away we’ve moved from disk media. I’ve used it once to install Visual Studio, which could have been downloaded anyway.
The main downside/problem that I’ve noticed so far is that some parts of the laptop do feel like they are a bit loose and could have done with being a bit more solid. This seems to be a common problem from other reviews but nothing that gets in the way of being able to use it to the fullest, more-so just the aesthetics/finish.
I had also expected the 1GB graphics card to perform a slight bit better, however still most games I play work well at decent settings.
As with most things, only time will tell, but on the plus side hardware seems to be getting cheaper each year.
DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this post are solely the views of my own and are by no means the views of any brands represented in this post.