Notebooks often claim to be portable but either have a screen too big to fit into a standard bag, are so thick and heavy they just aren't the trouble or are so lacking in power you can’t do any substantial work when you get to your destination. Asus claims the Zenbook UX425 is ultra portable, so does it tick all the boxes?
The first tick of approval is on the design itself, amazingly thin and so light it feels more like holding a magazine than a powerful notebook. The ultralight all-metal houses a 14 inch monitor and a full size keyboard, even if the arrow keys are thinned out to fit in. If you can imagine this it's actually 13.9mm thin and only weighs 1.13kg. It’s this portability that allows it to slide into a bag or satchel rather than needing a large backpack to haul it around in.
The colour is nice too, The review machine I tested was a “Pine Grey” and that darker tone was really appealing especially with the spun-metal finish that you see on many of the Zenbook models. It’s also available in the lighter “Lilac Mist” in case you choose your machine based on the decor of your office.
For a machine this size it would be easy to use a lower quality display, but being a Zenbook comes with a reputation and the NanoEdge display creates a 90% screen to body ratio so there’s hardly any bezel. Most of it is actually at the top and that's fine with me because they’ve actually included an in built webcam. Many manufacturers are starting to leave the cam off just so they can boast to have a thinner bezel, but for me the practicality of having an inbuilt cam means a lot more, so bravo for including it. It also means that they could add the “fast face” login, which is a lot faster to get into your work and as long as no one goes all “Nicholas Cage” and steals your face, your important stuff is all secure.
It’s a 1 watt FHD LCD display panel and amazingly bright and clear with it’s gloss look. I really like how colours pop on these screens and it’s perfect for watching a video on the go or even just spending a long time in front of if you’ve got a busy workload.
Keeping it thin is one thing, keeping thin while still practical is another. They’ve managed to squeeze a surprising amount of ports on the device including a HDMI, 2 xThunderbolt 3 USB-C, USB Type-A and even a Micro SD card reader. The Zenbook 14 charges through the usb-c so having two included is a really good idea.
As far as power goes, the model I tested was an I7 with 16 gig of ram so it ran amazingly smooth with all the operations I could test it with. Having multiple applications open at once wasn't an issue for it either. Although it’s good to see 512 GBs or storage in it I’d think it would be standard by now to have at least 1TB in all new machines.
Sound on a machine this size is not super important to me, most speaker setups will do a job for you, but ASUS decided to give you clear powerful sound anyway thanks to a Harmon/Kardon system. I’ve got to say I was thankful for that when I watched the first two episodes of Amazon’s “The Boys” season 2 on it. Amazing pictures and brilliant sound does matter.
The fast charge battery is an amazing feature of the small design, they’ve managed to somehow fit a 67 wh battery into this small chassis and that gives you up to around 22 hours of battery life. If by chance you do run low, you can fast charge in 49mins to around 60%. Using it on battery alone can affect the performance but only if you are using really power hungry apps.
I find it kinda funny that there’s a military test for how strong these machines are. It does make me feel more confident with choosing a notebook like this that has a MIL-STD-810G US which means it's pretty likely to survive a drop or two but I can’t help but picture a whole bunch of laptops lined up on an open field military test area being shot at and having grenades throw at them. Anyway, suffice to say, it’s a tough little machine that can put up with a bit of mistreating, that doesn't mean you should though after all, it's a computer, treat it with respect and it will last you a long time.
One final touch that I found is not even on the machine itself. In the box was a beautifully designed laptop sleeve. I’m no expert, but it felt like a partially leather tongue and the laptop slid in with ease to keep it protected from scratches. This is something that could easily be sold separately but as an extra with the device is a really nice touch. Just make sure you check the box if you are usually quick to through packaging out. There was also a USB-C Audio adapter in the box as the machine itself has no audio jack. Another problem solved, before it becomes an issue for you. Mind you I think we can safely all just move to bluetooth headphones now and do away with annoying wires.
If you want an ultra portable laptop that you can use everyday be it at work or school this is great. It will power through casual tasks like web browsing, watching video or listening to your favourite tunes while you pump out an essay. The best thing is when you finish, it slides into your bag and you won’t even know it's there.