MacBook Air Alternatives

Asus Zenbook: The First To Full HD

Apple has been pushing its Retina Display technology pretty hard, having just brought it to its MacBook Pro lineup, so it has to be pretty embarrassing when a competitor comes out with a full 1080p Ultrabook first.

Asus’ latest Zenbook line has just seen some major improvements over the original. Much like Apple’s recent refresh, the new Zenbook has been upgraded to the same 3rd generation Intel Core processors. It also gets more USB 3.0 ports, and still features micro HDMI and mini VGA ports.

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Zenbook Prime (UX21A and UX31A)
Processor3rd Gen Intel Core i5 or Core i7
GraphicsIntel HD Graphics 4000
Display11.6-inch 1920x1080 or 13.3-inch 1920x1080
I/O Ports & Etc.2x USB 3.0, Ethernet (via USB Adapter), microHDMI, miniVGA, Headphone/Mic combo (+SD Reader for 13-inch)
Battery Life11-inch: 5+ Hours, 13-inch: 7+ Hours
Dimensions (inches)11-inch: 11.77 x 6.63 x 0.61; 13-inch: 12.8 x 8.78 x 0.71
Weight11-inch: 2.43 Lbs; 13-inch: 2.87 Lbs
PriceStarting at $1099 (11-inch), $1199 (13-inch)

But that pales in comparison to the biggest upgrade of all: a 1920x1080 resolution display. While it’s impressive enough that Asus could squeeze that kind of resolution into a 13.3-inch screen, the 11-inch UX21A model features it as well!

The UX31A and the UX21A sell at roughly the same price as similarly equipped MacBook Airs, so they aren’t exactly cheap. But with the premium most vendors put on Full HD 1080p displays, it’s not a bad deal.

If you don’t mind a little extra thickness, the UX32VD is an option that features a full-sized HDMI port and an additional USB 3.0 port.

When your goal is productivity and multitasking on an Ultrabook, a high resolution display can make a world of difference, and the latest offering from Asus really is unmatched.

  • acerace
    I love this article. :)
  • Hybrid hard drives negate a lot of what makes the Macbook Air great.
  • farensabri
    the truth
  • halcyon
    Very nice. I especially like the Dell, Asus, and Samsung pieces. While I may prefer OS X from a UI standpoint, I love this what these have to offer enough that I'd make the sacrifice.
  • fudoka711
    While I know many of us like to bash Apple, I like how this article wasn't focusing on why Apple sucks, but instead focused on why the competition is better, or at least probably better to the average consumer. Props to Mr. Escallier for outlining each vendor's pro's/con's in comparison to each other and the MBA.

    If I had to choose, I'd get the Zenbook because I love its design and 1080p output. Not gonna be gaming on it, sadly, but watching movies on it would be great. Plus I love the design.
  • altriss
    but it’s really just an “Ultrabook” – a term trademarked and defined by Intel
    without beeing specially an Aple fan, I find this stupid. Be honest if Aple hadn't created McBookAir, Intel would never had the Idea of UltraBooks.
    By the way I agree with fudoka711 about the general view on this article. Nice to see than PC builders finally created something that is worth a macbook air!
  • unstable hackintosh?its not unstable at all if you know what your doing everything works just fine and app store also so i dont see a problem...
  • quantumrand
    NotFastEnoughHybrid hard drives negate a lot of what makes the Macbook Air great.
    My counter argument: You can go with the Sony Vaio T-Series with a hybrid drive and save $400, taking a small hit in load times for apps you don't use often, or you can go with the T-Series with a SSD and save $200 and get the same SSD performance that "makes the Macbook Air great." :-)

    altrisswithout beeing specially an Aple fan, I find this stupid. Be honest if Aple hadn't created McBookAir, Intel would never had the Idea of UltraBooks.
    If you want to go with who came first, Gateway had the very first "subnotebook" form factor with the Gateway Handbook back in 1992.

    In 2002, Sharp had its Ultranotebook PC-UM20. It used a specialized Ultra-Low Voltage Intel processor (just like today's Ultrabooks) and was only .65 inches thick, thinner than even the current MacBook Air. I'd argue that this was the first "Ultrabook" in the non-Intel defined sense of the term.

    In 2004, four years before the MacBook Air, Sony released the PCG-X505. It featured the same processor specs as the full-sized laptops of its time, but was 10.4" laptop that was only 0.8 inches thick.

    There was also the Lenovo ThinkPad X300 which was a contemporary of the MacBook Air (released just weeks after the Air) and was actually thinner.

    Apple was by no means the pioneer of the Ultrabook platform. The MacBook Air just happened to be the most well-known one. If Apple didn't exist, Intel would still have gone forward with its "Ultrabook" concept. I would absolutely not give Apple credit with coming up with the Ultrabook idea. It gets credit for popularizing it, and that's all.
  • DjEaZy
    ... MacBook Air Alternatives? Without OS X? Except, if you make a hackentoch... but then you can take the original...
  • halcyon
    TBH, while the MacBook Air and its Ultrabook derivatives are nice enough I don't think I'd want to give up any of what my 15" notebook has to offer in terms of performance just to save a few pounds that, by carrying, can only help me stay in better shape than if I were not carrying them. The idea was novel at first and I've had my share of the MacBook Air (I've had 3) and my wife now has one but I'd rather carry my 15" notebook.