Oct 15 2012

Review: ASUS ZENBOOK Prime

Despite its light profile, this ultrabook is a heavy-duty performer.

Because my school has a one-to-one notebook computer program, I follow the market closely and often find myself admiring new models. Although ultrabooks are relatively new, the form factor is starting to make inroads in education. One ­example, the recently released ASUS ZENBOOK Prime, is both sleek and sexy, with specs and performance sure to impress any techie.

End-User Advantages

One of the first things I noticed about the ZENBOOK Prime is how thin and light it is — just 0.35 inch in the front and 0.12 inch in the rear, with a weight of 2.9 pounds.

Thanks to the Intel Core i5 (1.7-gigahertz) or Core i7 (1.9GHz) processor that powers it, the ultrabook can handle most tasks a student or teacher would demand of it. The speedy processor — combined with the built-in 128- or 256-gigabyte solid-state drive — results in incredibly fast performance. The ZENBOOK Prime also ships with 4GB of RAM.

I routinely got about five and a half hours of use out of the ultrabook's battery before having to grab the power cord. I also found the backlit keyboard to be a nice touch.

The ZENBOOK Prime's 11.6-inch, in-plane switching display is possibly the best available in a notebook ­computer, delivering clear, stable 1920x1080 resolution images and extra-wide, 178-degree viewing. A Bang & Olufsen ICEpower sound ­system produced rich audio not often found in most portable devices.

Why It Works for IT

IT departments will appreciate that the ZENBOOK Prime has Intel's latest generation i5 and i7 processors, which ensure speedy performance; its Anti-Theft Technology (Intel AT) feature, which deters data and asset theft; and its Wireless Display widget (Intel WiDi), which allows users to wirelessly connect the device to a television or projector and transmit content in full 1080p resolution.

The ultrabook's solid-state drive (SSD) offers an exponential speed increase over traditional 5400 rpm hard drives and is extremely durable. Many notebooks with traditional hard drives "park" the drive head when they detect the notebook is being moved, which is meant to ­protect the device but hampers ­productivity. SSDs eliminate this problem, which means the ZENBOOK Prime truly can be used anywhere.

The aluminum chassis creates a very rigid frame that should prevent chassis flex or component damage. As a bonus, ASUS includes a standard one-year global warranty and one year of accidental damage protection.


The trackpad, for me, is one of the ZENBOOK Prime's few weaknesses. It's situated where the user's wrists rest and always moved the cursor when I was typing. I worked around this minor annoyance by disabling the trackpad "tapping" function.

I also was surprised to see the device's serial number on a sticker on the bottom of the chassis, rather than laser-etched on the device like the rest of its identifying information. For security reasons, IT departments might be wary of identity information that could easily peel off.

These issues aside, schools looking to buy ultrabooks can't go wrong with the ZENBOOK Prime. Its vivid display, decent battery life and instant-on feature are enticing, and the brushed-metal finish is a real head turner.

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