The Asus Zenbook Prime line of Ultrabooks have been top sellers and top picks since the Zenbook UX31E came out in the fall of 2011. With each generation, Asus perfects the Zenbook and the new Zenbook Prime UX31A Touch is their crowning achievement. This is an all black version of the Zenbook Prime UX31A we know and love with a full HD IPS 13.3" touch screen. To really enjoy Windows 8, a touch screen is a must and we're thrilled that the new touch model sells for roughly the same price as the non-touch version. Asus doesn't do a great job with model naming, so if you want the touch model, be sure to look for the Zenbook Touch UX31A-BHI5T11. In the US, Best Buy seems to have the exclusive for now, and happily they've had it on sale since launch for $1,099.
With each iteration Asus has diligently and swiftly worked out the kinks and responded to customer feedback, from the UX31E's bleh keyboard to the UX31A's iffy trackpad and light bleed issues-- they've been addressed here. The Zenbook Prime UX31A Touch has a very good backlit keyboard, a much improved oversized trackpad and our unit has minimal light bleed that's no worse than competitor's IPS displays. WiFi is solid and Asus has made SSD drives more consistent. The rest is Zenbook excellence, from the super-rigid all metal casing to the laptop's perfect fit and finish with no sharp edges or ugly seams. It's a stunning looking machine and we like the black aluminum casing, even though it adores fingerprints. It's clearly the touch Ultrabook to beat and competes nicely with the 13" MacBook Air in the quality and luxury segment.
The Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A Touch has an excellent IPS display with 5 points of multi-touch and 1920 x 1080 resolution. Sharpness and clarity are excellent and the display covers much of the Adobe sRGB spectrum for better than average color gamut. Color gamut isn't quite as wide as it's non-touch cousin the UX31A, and it's a glossy display (like all touch screens these days), so graphics professionals may favor the non-touch version. But non-graphics pros will likely adore this bright, colorful and sharp 13.3" touchscreen.
The 3 lb. laptop runs on a 1.7GHz Intel Core i5 ULV CPU with Intel HD 4000 graphics, 4 gigs of DDR3 dual channel RAM (not upgradable) and a 128 gig fast mSATA SSD drive (Adata). It has dual band Intel WiFi 802.11/b/g/n 6235N with Intel WiDi wireless display support and Bluetooth 4.0. There's no NFC or 3G. It has a 1.3MP webcam and stereo speakers with the usual Bang and Olufsen ICEPower branding. The machine has 2 USB 3.0 ports (one charging), micro HDMI, mini VGA with a dongle adapter that converts it to full size VGA, a full size SD card slot and 3.5mm audio. Asus includes the usual Zenbook Prime bundle: a 10/100 USB Ethernet adapter and VGA adapter in a small pouch, a brown ballistic nylon slip case and a USB to micro USB short cable. It ships with the same compact square adapter we've seen with previous Zenbooks.
Battery life has been a pleasant surprise, and the beefy 50Whr Lithium Ion Polymer has averaged 6 hours of use in mixed productivity and entertainment scenarios with brightness set to 50% and WiFi and Bluetooth on.