ASUS just announced its first line of Ultrabook PCs under the new Zenbook brand at a press event in NYC. There are a total of five models in the Zenbook lineup ranging in price from $999 to $1499 and available in both 11.6-inch and 13.3-inch display configurations. Based on specs alone, the Zenbook lineup is very similar to Apple's 2011 MacBook Air. Dimensions are almost identical, although ASUS' 11 is a little heavier than Apple's while its 13 is a little lighter. The entire Zenbook lineup ships with 4GB of DDR3 memory and all of the systems use the same ULV Sandy Bridge parts that Apple uses in the MacBook Air. Battery capacities are identical to the Air models at 35Whr and 50Whr depending on the chassis size. ASUS does claim lower standby numbers than Apple (up to 10 days vs. up to 30 for the MBA), but that's likely an OS limitation. The Zenbooks typically give you a larger SSD than Apple (and 6Gbps on top of that) as well as a single USB 3.0 port to complement its USB 2.0 port. ASUS claims a 2 second resume time for all of the Zenbook models, presumably from a suspend-to-RAM state.

ASUS Zenbook Lineup
  UX21E-DH52 UX21E-DH71 UX31E-DH52 UX31E-DH53 UX31E-DH72
CPU i5-2467M i7-2677M i5-2557M i5-2557M i7-2677M
OS Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Display 11.6-inch 1366 x 768 13.3-inch 1600 x 900
Memory 4GB DDR3
Storage 128GB 6Gbps SSD 256GB 6Gbps SSD
Wireless Connectivity 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0
Battery 35Whr (5+ Hours)
up to 7 day standby
50Whr (7+ Hours)
up to 10 day standby
Camera 0.3MP
Audio Bang and Olufsen ICEpower & ASUS SonicMaster Tech
I/O 1 x USB 2, 1 x USB 3, 1x audio/mic, 1x microHDMI, 1x miniVGA 1 x USB 2, 1 x USB 3, 1 x audio/mic, 1 x microHDMI, 1 x miniVGA, 1 x SD Card reader
Dimensions 11.7 x 7.7 x 0.11-0.67" 12.8 x 8.8 x 0.11-0.71"
Weight 2.43 lbs 2.86 lbs
USA MSRP $999 $1199 $1099 $1349 $1499

The first Zenbooks will be available for order in the US starting October 12th. I've included some head to head comparisons between the various Zenbook models and their MacBook Air counterparts below. For the most part the specs aren't all that different. I don't expect that there are a ton of users who cross-shop similarly priced Macs and PCs, the Zenbook simply looks like a good option for those users who want a MacBook Air but prefer Windows 7.

ASUS' 13-inch offerings do have a higher resolution display than their Apple counterparts (1600 x 900 vs 1440 x 900). We're still waiting to hear back on the panel technology used in the Zenbooks, but I would be surprised if it was anything more than plain-old-TN like the Macs. Compared to the upgraded MBAs however, ASUS' Zenbooks do offer higher clocked CPUs at the same price point.

ASUS Zenbook U31E vs. Apple 13-inch MacBook Air
  UX31E-DH52 UX31E-DH53 Base 13-inch MBA
CPU i5-2557M 1.7GHz/2C/3MB i5-2557M 1.7GHz/2C/3MB i5-2557M 1.7GHz/2C/3MB
Display 13.3-inch 1600 x 900 13.3-inch 1600 x 900 13.3-inch 1440 x 900
Memory 4GB DDR3 4GB DDR3 4GB DDR3
Storage 128GB 6Gbps SSD 256GB 6Gbps SSD 128GB 3Gbps SSD
Wireless Connectivity 802.11 b/g/n 802.11 b/g/n 802.11 a/b/g/n
Battery 50 Whr 50 Whr 50 Whr
Camera 0.3MP 0.3MP 0.3MP
I/O 1 x USB 2, 1 x USB 3, 1 x audio/mic, 1 x microHDMI, 1 x miniVGA, 1 x SD Card reader 1 x USB 2, 1 x USB 3, 1 x audio/mic, 1 x microHDMI, 1 x miniVGA, 1 x SD Card reader 2 x USB 2, 1 x audio/mic, 1 x Thunderbolt, 1 x SD Card reader
Dimensions 12.8 x 8.8 x 0.11-0.71" 12.8 x 8.8 x 0.11-0.71" 12.8 x 8.94 x 0.11-0.68"
Weight 2.86 lbs 2.86 lbs 2.96 lbs
MSRP $1099 $1349 $1299

 

ASUS Zenbook U31E vs. Apple 13-inch MacBook Air
  UX31E-DH72 Upgraded 13-inch MBA
CPU i7-2667M 1.8GHz/2C/4MB i5-2557M 1.7GHz/2C/3MB
Display 13.3-inch 1600 x 900 13.3-inch 1440 x 900
Memory 4GB DDR3 4GB DDR3
Storage 256GB 6Gbps SSD 256GB 3Gbps SSD
Wireless Connectivity 802.11 b/g/n 802.11 a/b/g/n
Battery 50 Whr 50 Whr
Camera 0.3MP 0.3MP
I/O 1 x USB 2, 1 x USB 3, 1 x audio/mic, 1 x microHDMI, 1 x miniVGA, 1 x SD Card reader 2 x USB 2, 1 x audio/mic, 1 x Thunderbolt, 1 x SD Card reader
Dimensions 12.8 x 8.8 x 0.11-0.71" 12.8 x 8.94 x 0.11-0.68"
Weight 2.86 lbs 2.96 lbs
MSRP $1499 $1599

 

ASUS Zenbook U21E vs. Apple 11-inch MacBook Air
  UX21E-DH52 Base 11-inch MBA
CPU i5-2467M 1.6GHz/2C/3MB i5-2467M 1.6GHz/2C/3MB
Display 11.6-inch 1366 x 768 11.6-inch 1366 x 768
Memory 4GB DDR3 2GB DDR3
Storage 128GB 6Gbps SSD 64GB 3Gbps SSD
Wireless Connectivity 802.11 b/g/n 802.11 a/b/g/n
Battery 35 Whr 35Whr
Camera 0.3MP 0.3MP
I/O 1 x USB 2, 1 x USB 3, 1 x audio/mic, 1 x microHDMI, 1 x miniVGA 2 x USB 2, 1 x audio/mic, 1 x Thunderbolt
Dimensions 11.7 x 7.7 x 0.11-0.67" 11.8 x 7.56 x 0.11-0.68"
Weight 2.43 lbs 2.38 lbs
MSRP $999 $999

 

ASUS Zenbook U21E vs. Apple 11-inch MacBook Air
  EX21E-DH71 Upgraded 11-inch MBA
CPU i7-2667M 1.8GHz/2C/4MB i5-2467M 1.6GHz/2C/3MB
Display 11.6-inch 1366 x 768 11.6-inch 1366 x 768
Memory 4GB DDR3 4GB DDR3
Storage 128GB 6Gbps SSD 128GB 3Gbps SSD
Wireless Connectivity 802.11 b/g/n 802.11 a/b/g/n
Battery 35 Whr 35Whr
Camera 0.3MP 0.3MP
I/O 1 x USB 2, 1 x USB 3, 1 x audio/mic, 1 x microHDMI, 1 x miniVGA 2 x USB 2, 1 x audio/mic, 1 x Thunderbolt
Dimensions 11.7 x 7.7 x 0.11-0.67" 11.8 x 7.56 x 0.11-0.68"
Weight 2.43 lbs 2.38 lbs
MSRP $1199 $1199

 

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  • DanNeely - Wednesday, October 12, 2011 - link

    Arstechnica managed to get a bit of hands on with at least one of the ultrabook models and wasn't impressed with the screen quality. "he viewing angles on the screen were not great and had some distortion off to either side, and the screen as a whole was sharp, but its colors a bit dull." It's not certain which models screen they were commenting on; but the only explicitly IDed photos were for the 11" model; so it was probably that one.

    http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/news/2011/10/first-...
    Reply
  • Jamezrp - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    I'm looking forward to seeing just how good Windows ultraportables in the same design as the MBA can be. Acer's just announced theirs, and now Asus too. That makes four serious contenders (including Sony and Samsung).

    Also Anand, you list in the second comparison chart that it's the base MBA. That's actually the upgraded MBA.
    Reply
  • heymrdj - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    For the Zenbooks you said 1 x USB 1, I think you mean 1x USB 2? Reply
  • heraldo25 - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    Mini-VGA, seriously? Why not add Mini DisplayPort, instead of making an "Ultrabook" with stonage connector. Reply
  • SquattingDog - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    My thoughts exactly. Reply
  • quiksilvr - Wednesday, October 12, 2011 - link

    As depressing as it may be, there are still a lot of businesses out there withe VGA only projectors. So instead of getting an adapter, they put VGA.

    I don't like it either. I'm sick and tired of VGA and DVI.
    Reply
  • finalaspects - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    What's the difference between the UX31E-DH52 and UX31E-DH53? Other than the large increase in price, the specs are identical.... Reply
  • ckryan - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    The processor and the SSD are both different.

    DH53 = i5-2557M 1.7GHz/2C/3MB, 256GB 6Gbps SSD, $1349
    DH52 = i5-2467M 1.6GHz/2C/3MB, 128GB 6Gbps SSD, $999

    It's certainly not excessively priced for a bump in CPU and 128GB more SSD to play with.
    Reply
  • finalaspects - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    The 13inch DH53 and DH52 seem to have the same processor. Although now it's been changed, in the article, that the SSD have different storage base. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    The CPU goes from the i5-2557M to the i7-2677M; Intel always charges a pretty major price premium for i7 parts. Reply

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