Priced at Rs 56,000—on Amazon it was Rs 61,000 for the 8GB RAM and 512 SSD—it is one of the expensive laptops in the range, and certainly does not offer as much as it commands.
When Compaq released its first laptop three decades ago, holding a laptop in itself was a marvel. No one cared how gawdy these things looked, as long as you were holding one all eyeballs were on you. While desktops were undergoing a design transformation—thanks to Apple—nobody was trying to make laptops beautiful.
Now, as laptops move from the domain of power and performance, more companies are looking at stylish designs and attractive covers. The laptop is no more just a device, it has to be artistic. HP did this with its Elitebook, Dell has done it with the new XPS range—Apple is still more stylish with Macbook models—but Asus is taking it a step further. With full metal body and stunning colours, Asus is taking the lead in beautiful laptops. Surely, a style statement. The Asus Zenbook 14 is no different.
With a greyish blue meta body finish, the upper body is smooth and flawless. The lower aluminum plate could have been a bit thicker, it had a crackling noise, but the surface is smooth. I guess a few more nuts would have made it sturdier. The miminum bezel design ensures that the laptop doesn’t look huge; the big plus, however, is the weight. At 1.4 kg, the laptop is light and easy to carry. The charger is as compact.
Towards the interior the keys are well-spaced out, and the glass top on the trackpad ensures smooth operation. While the keyboard is backlight, Asus has done well to merge an orange with the blue, which really brings out the look. The keys are smooth, and like other Asus laptops, the keyboard is flawless. Typing on this is a dream. A few days ago, I reviewed the Asus Duo, and it seems smooth keyboards have become a hallmark of Asus products.
The camera, unlike a Dell, is placed up top and clicks good quality HD images at 0.9 MP. The system has two USB ports, an audio jack and USB C-type 3.1 port along with SD card reader. The USB and HDMI port, however, on the left, are positioned too close to each other.
While Asus has the same design of part of the top buckling under the bottom half, which is certainly helpful for desk work as it elevates the keyboard, it is not very convenient in the lap. The fingerprint scanner in the trackpad—top right—is a nifty addition. The sensor is good, and there is no lag in detection. Gesture control has been improved. It is not as smooth a transition as that of Apple, but still better than previous iterations.
The upward facing speakers are the main attraction for the Zenbook. Having tied up with Harman /Kardon, the sound quality does not disappoint one bit. The speakers have depth and tone. While they are not as loud as iPad speakers, they certainly are clearer. But the bass is somewhat missing. As laptops are mostly used for OTT watching, bass would not be so much of concern, but when listening to music that is a minus. Overall, the speakers are better than any other laptop in this price range. Harman/Kardon fitment does its job well, and gets you as close to surround sound as it can.
To go with great speakers, Asus has come out with excellent graphics. The laptop comes equipped with a FHD display, which in no way compromises on quality. The picture is clear and colours are vivid. While blacks are a problem, and at lower brightness the screen is still too bright, the rest of the specifications are just perfect for movie viewing. As it also doubles up as an entry level gaming device, graphics do not disappoint, but they are not too great either. There is some problem with refresh rate, even with the Radeon Vega 8 graphic card.
I have seen many people disappointed with the AMD processors, but gone are the days when AMD used to play second fiddle to Intel. The new series of AMD Ryzen 5 3500U Mobile Processor are fast and energy efficient. While the laptop does not have an excellent battery life, it survives only 6 hours with gaming, and 8-9 hours with video watching and moderate use,
It is still better than others in the range. Heating, though, is an issue, and the fan isn’t as quiet as you would want it to be. The fan noise dilutes the speaker noise. While the laptop is not ideal for video-processing—with a DaVinci Resolve—it heat up within 90 minutes of operation, it surely is great for streaming and light functions.
This is where Asus has a problem. Priced at Rs 56,000—on Amazon it was Rs 61,000 for the 8GB RAM and 512 SSD—it is one of the expensive laptops in the range, and certainly does not offer as much as it commands. The flip version, which is priced Rs 5000 more, seems to be a better bet. With the right price Asus can sell. However, if you wish to go for style, Asus, indeed, is exceptional.