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Asus Zenbook UX303LA review

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Asus Zenbook UX303LA
  • Asus Zenbook UX303LA
  • Asus Zenbook UX303LA
  • Asus Zenbook UX303LA
  • Asus Zenbook UX303LA
  • Asus Zenbook UX303LA
  • Asus Zenbook UX303LA
  • Asus Zenbook UX303LA
  • Asus Zenbook UX303LA
  • Asus Zenbook UX303LA
  • Asus Zenbook UX303LA
  • Asus Zenbook UX303LA
  • Asus Zenbook UX303LA
  • Asus Zenbook UX303LA
  • Asus Zenbook UX303LA
  • Asus Zenbook UX303LA
  • Asus Zenbook UX303LA
  • Asus Zenbook UX303LA
  • Asus Zenbook UX303LA
  • Asus Zenbook UX303LA
  • Asus Zenbook UX303LA
  • Asus Zenbook UX303LA
  • Asus Zenbook UX303LA
  • Asus Zenbook UX303LA
  • Asus Zenbook UX303LA
  • Asus Zenbook UX303LA
  • Asus Zenbook UX303LA
  • Asus Zenbook UX303LA
  • Asus Zenbook UX303LA
  • Asus Zenbook UX303LA

Summary

Our Score:

8

User Score:

Pros

  • Good-looking metal design
  • Fast Core i7 processor
  • Good battery life
  • Impressive keyboard and trackpad

Cons

  • Slightly thick and heavy
  • Poor screen quality
  • Competitors are longer-lasting

Key Features

  • 13.3in 1,600 x 900 screen
  • 2GHz Intel Core i7-4510U processor
  • 128GB SSD
  • 6GB RAM
  • Intel HD Graphics 4400
  • Dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi
  • Windows 8.1 64-bit
  • Manufacturer: Asus
  • Review Price: £700.00

What is the Asus Zenbook UX303LA?

The Asus Zenbook UX303LA is the latest laptop to arrive at TrustedReviews with an Ultrabook sticker gleaming on its wrist-rest.

It’s a great-looking system that’s up there with the market’s sleekest ultraportable notebooks, but it doesn’t have the high price you’d expect. Instead, the UX303LA comes in at a reasonable £700.

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Asus Zenbook UX303LA 34

Asus Zenbook UX303LA: Design & Build Quality

Like many Ultrabooks, Asus has built this machine’s exterior from slick metal. Like most of its rivals, it’s also a slim device that tapers to a thin front edge – in this case, it narrows down to an impressive 3mm.

The metal is everywhere, from the underside to the bezel surround, and it’s inevitable that this machine will draw comparisons to other metallic machines, such as the Apple MacBook Air and HP’s Spectre 13, though of course it's a design Asus has carried since its first ultrabook the UX31E.

The metal is coloured with a shade that Asus calls “smoky brown”, and it looks good in a satisfyingly subtle way. The material on the inside has a familiar brushed texture, but the lid stands out with Asus' signature circular spun pattern. When the lid is lifted, it’s business as usual – aside from the small bit of text that indicates Bang & Olufsen audio.

Drill down to the details, and the UX303LA can’t quite compete with its more expensive competition. Its 1.45kg weight is reasonable for an Ultrabook, but the HP and Apple machines are a little lighter. Even Lenovo’s Yoga 2 Pro hybrid dips below 1.4kg.

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Asus Zenbook UX303LA 23

It’s a similar situation when it comes to width. The UX303LA’s 18mm body extends to 20mm with its rubber feet, which is thicker than every competitor.

The wrist-rest depressed slightly when we pushed the expanses of metal on either side of the track-pad, and there was a little movement in the base. The screen is stronger, with no distortion on the panel itself. The Asus’ strength is on a par with the HP and Lenovo, but it can’t compete with the rock-solid MacBook.

Connectivity is reasonable. The outside serves up three USB 3 ports, HDMI and mini-DisplayPort outputs and an SD card slot. The inside provides dual-band 802.11ac Wi-FI and Bluetooth 4.0. There’s no room for Gigabit Ethernet, but Asus supplies a USB adapter in the box, and another to convert mini-DisplayPort to D-SUB.

Asus Zenbook UX303LA 24

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Asus Zenbook UX303LA: Screen & Sound Quality

The UX303LA has a 13.3in non-touch screen with a 1,600 x 900 resolution and an anti-glare finish – so there’s no sign of irritating reflections.

The resolution is modest enough to ensure that the Asus doesn’t fall foul of the scaling issues that afflicted the Lenovo’s 3,200 x 1,800 panel, and it’s also a better option than the 1,440 x 900 screen offered by the Macbook Air. It can’t quite offer the sharpness of the HP, which had a 1080p panel.

Accuracy wise, the Asus gets off to a good start with a brightness level of 366 nits – that’s higher than the Lenovo, Apple and HP systems. The contrast ratio of 813:1 is good, too – only the HP was better. Those results, when combined with the anti-glare coating, meant that this machine coped with use outdoors or under bright lights, although the anti-glare material did make the screen grainy.

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Asus Zenbook UX303LA 4

Elsewhere, the UX303LA falls behind. The measured colour temperature is a cool 7,370K, which is further away from the 6,500K ideal than every rival. The Asus’ average Delta E of 9.25 is also poor.

The cool colour temperature and lack of colour accuracy mean poor real-world results. The bright reds and yellows in our test images lacked vibrancy, and skin tones felt pallid. This screen also handled just 57.2% of the sRGB colour gamut, with only blues displayed properly – another factor that makes this panel feel cool and lifeless.

The brightness meant that white shades remained distinguishable, but the mediocre black level – 0.45 nits – caused dark shades to merge.

The poor colour accuracy and gamut coverage, when combined with the middling resolution, mean the UX303LA isn't a good choice for those that regularly edit images or video, and won't be the best for watching videos either. Otherwise, the brightness and contrast make it a fine panel for day-to-day use: if you’re browsing the web, playing casual games or using Office apps, it’s ample.

The speakers surprised us. We expect slim, light laptops to have tinny, weak audio, but the Asus delivered punchy music. The mid-range was meaty, and the high-end proved snappy but not overwhelming. There’s a little bass there too, which helps round out a reasonable audio profile. We’d prefer a little more low-end punch and a tad more volume, but the UX303LA is fine for listening to music or watching movies in a small room.

Matthew Bunton

October 12, 2014, 9:18 am

If the screen quality is poor as you stated then you really shouldn't be scoring this so high.

Seriously on any laptop, tablet or notebook the screen is of paramount importance.

Guest

October 12, 2014, 9:21 am

+1. My thinkpad t420 would have been a great laptop had it not been for the screen.

Paul

October 12, 2014, 11:46 am

smells like another apple victory

John

October 13, 2014, 6:43 am

Would prefer dedicated graphics or at least a more powerful GPU at this price.

John

October 13, 2014, 6:45 am

Depends what you're comparing it to. Their complaints are about colour accuracy and resolution. They said brightness / contrast etc is good. So probably no Macbook retina but then again, it is cheaper...

Mark Colit

October 13, 2014, 9:13 am

Does it sport a throttled processor due to poor heatsink/fan combo? Asustek are infamous for that in some of their "ultraportables." Also, updates for drivers at their website is very poor. They tend to be proprietorial signed drivers, which means that if you download the latest driver from a component companies website, say Intel, Asus and Windows 8 will roll back the driver without asking you.

Kulti Vator

October 13, 2014, 11:17 am

Yep - agree with that comment; nice, solid laptop... abysmal display.

Thankfully I've taken to using it mostly with a Cintiq 13HD pen display, so I don't often have to look at the built-in turkey of a screen.

Matthew Bunton

October 15, 2014, 3:42 pm

That is the point John it shouldn't be based upon a comparrison. To say that it is ok to have a poor screen just because it is cheap is not acceptable.

You wouldn't and shouldn't compare this to a high end laptop it has to be judged on its own merits. Thereby stating that its screen is of poor quality and thus a serious con should carry more weight as it is an integral part of the product.

Matthew Bunton

October 15, 2014, 3:55 pm

Exactly Greg when will these manufacturers realise that Screens Keyboards and trackpads are the most important factors to the end user.

All of these contribute to our key interactions and thus experiences with their products.

John

November 11, 2014, 11:52 pm

But everything is relative surely? A screen could be 'poor' compared to say a £2,000 iMac 5k screen, but good for a £500 laptop. All depends on the context and pricepoint. That said, I do think manufacturers who provide poor screens should be named and shamed. Slightly colour inaccuracy I can live with but some laptop screens I've seen are appalling in terms of contrast and brightness.

Antony Dennis

February 4, 2015, 3:05 pm

I want to buy one of these... I particularly want it for the bright, matt screen - I live in Spain and the reflections on a gloss screen drive me mad.

Mike, can you tell me what variant this was that you tested? There are loads of variants, with 1360, 1600, 1920, 3200 wide screens... and no one knows whether the ones they are selling are matt or gloss screens.

Thanks!

Tiger

March 2, 2015, 5:41 pm

I've got one of these and my god the screen is shite!!

but .... luckily PC world just got stock of the upgrade to this using the new broadwell processor, backlit keys and more importantly ... full HD screen 1920 x 1080.

all for the same price as the current model.

so anyone looking to get the zenbook then make sure to get the one with this model number

UX303LA-R4338H

Tiger

March 2, 2015, 5:41 pm

yep screen is poor but see my comment above about the replacement model (same price ;-) HD screen and other benefits)

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