Pound for pound, you would be hard-pressed to find a more grandiose name for a laptop category than the ultrabook. Ultra! You might imagine that an ultrabook could send you hurtling through time and space while doing your taxes and laundry for you. Reality is a little bit less exciting than that. An ultrabook is a laptop designed to be a light and thin as possible, while still providing the full capabilities and performance of a regularly sized laptop. ASUS has their own Zenbook line of ultrabooks, and the ASUS Zenbook UX330CA is their most affordable option.
Unboxing the ASUS Zenbook UX330CA
The lean look of the Zenbook starts with the packaging. You get the bare minimum of cardboard containing the few items inside. Manual, power supply, laptop: that is everything that you will get inside the box. If you were hoping for additional USB cords or adapters, you are out of luck. The world of the ultrabook is one of adapters sold separately.
ASUS Zenbook UX330CA Technical Specifications
ASUS UX330CA Ultrabook laptop
For a lightweight laptop, the ASUS Zenbook UX330CA offers a surprising number of ports. It has 3 USB 3.0 ports, a combo audio jack, a USB-C port, a mini-HDMI port, and an SD card reader. When you compare that to their main competition, it really puts the Apple MacBook to shame. And it beats the MacBook in price too.
So how do they manage to make a laptop that is both light and fully functional? Well, there are a few standard techniques that ultrabooks use, and ASUS makes use of them all. First, the body is made completely of aluminum. The hard drive is a solid state drive (SSD), which saves on weight while also providing faster start-up times. Additional space and weight is saved by omitting the optical drive, so put your CDs and DVDs back into the drawer. All of these space-saving techniques make for an incredibly light laptop at 1.2 kg, with a miniscule thickness of 13.5mm.
The gleam of the solid aluminum body and the concentric circles of its spun metal finish are pretty impressive when the light first hits the laptop. The switch from my clunky 17.3” laptop to the sleek 13.3” ultrabook was a bit of a shock for my big thick fingers as they kept trying to hit buttons that were not as far away as they used to be. But as soon as I got my pinkie retrained, I was up and running. Since we’re talking about the keys, I should mention that they are very responsive and enjoyable to use.
The ASUS Zenbook UX330CA stresses graphic performance as one of its strong suits. It can pump out a maximum resolution of 1920 X 1080, which is good for any laptop, ultrabook or not. They brag about their 276 pixels per inch, and the bragging is warranted. I loved using the laptop for detailed visual work and for watching high definition movies. The ASUS Zenbook comes with ASUS Eye Care software, which allows you to adjust the display to suit specific environments and demands. Eye Care mode, as an example, reduces the blue light levels emitted by the display, which lessens eye strain.
The sound quality is also surprisingly good, considering how small the speakers are. And yes, they have a fancy name for their sound solution as well: the ASUS SonicMaster. I cannot say for certain that they have created the master of all sound, but the laptop does sound good.The ASUS Zenbook UX330CA promises 12 hours of battery life, and that is roughly what it provided for me. Near the end of the battery’s charge, the machine did slow down a bit, but that is par for the course. Every laptop will throttle down the power usage as the battery situation becomes dire.
It may be simply a confluence of environmental factors and high demand, but I had a slight issue with the Wi-Fi connection. Though the ASUS Zenbook connected to my 5Ghz wireless network, the data throughput was inconsistent. Back on my 2.4 Ghz wireless network, the situation improved. I’ll chalk it up to the increased traffic from all the new holiday devices, but a slight reduction in Wi-Fi connectivity due to smaller internal antennas wouldn’t completely surprise me. On the other hand, it is very nice to see that the ASUS Zenbook UX330CA supports the most current Wi-Fi standard of 802.11ac.
This is the gift that I did not ask for. And yet, it keeps prompting me to open it up. I am not a fan of superfluous software added by the manufacturer, also known as ‘bloatware’. The ASUS Giftbox software claims that it will be a portal to the apps that will make my Zenbook the best it can be. I doubt that I need ASUS to hold my hand during the app selection process. It strikes me as a way to push app content from their partners to the unsuspecting users, and a handy way to barrage me with sales spam. No thanks, ASUS, I’ll pick my own apps. To be fair, this is really the only piece of unrequested software that came with the ASUS Zenbook UX330CA, so don’t judge them too harshly.
From the necessity of not being to get the scrolling to work at first (my fault, not the laptop’s) I finally started using multi-finger gestures. Boy did I suddenly feel dumb for waiting so long. The touchpad was fast and infinitely more useful once I incorporated the gestures. I didn’t dive very deeply into it, but the handwriting recognition feature of the touchpad is neat. With your finger, you can write on the touchpad, and the text is transcribed onto the screen. It is easy to imagine relying on the handwriting feature with repeated use.
ASUS Zenbook UX330CA Overall impression
The ASUS Zenbook UX330CA does, in fact, balance minimal size with great performance. All of the promises of long battery life, high definition visuals, and esthetic appeal are met. For under a thousand dollars, this is an affordable and effective ultrabook.
images from ASUS.com