Asus UX30 review – portability with style

Andrei Girbea November 8, 2013 Reviews 6 Comments

The Asus UX30 is one of the best looking portable 13.3″ on the market at the moment, with a stylish aluminum front finish and very good overall build quality.

Performance level is good but not great, as the netbook only houses a 1.3 GHz CULV processor and only 1 GB of RAM (there are more powerful versions available though).

The device can run the basic every day applications, but not Full HD video content, games or resources hungry software.

As for the bad parts, there are only two noticeable ones:  autonomy, that’s only around the 4 hours mark on a normal usage, and price, that is expected to start from 800-900 bucks.

Pros:

  • very good looking
  • good 13.3″ LED back-lit screen with 1366 x 768 px resolution
  • compact and light
  • powerful enough for everyday applications
  • very good keyboard and decent sized touch-pad

Cons:

  • battery life is only around the 4 hours mark *
  • price is pretty high*
  • screen is glossy, so difficult to use in strong light conditions

The version available in the US, named UL30A, doesn’t come with these problems. See more details below.

Where to buy:

Asus only decided to offer the UX30 in some countries in Europe.

For the rest of the world, there’s a very similar 13 incher, the Asus UL30A . This one comes with similar looks and provides better hardware and autonomy, while being more affordable. You can read all about it in this thorough review of the UL30A I’ve put together on this site.

We were lucky today to come along one of the newest portable notebooks from Asus, the UX30 . This one hasn’t been yet launched, so we tested a pre-release model. But it’s more or less the same version as the one going to hit the stores later this year. It’s true this Asus UX30 is not really a netbook, but since it’s small, light and not to pricey, we kind of consider it the next step in this segment.

The exterior

First of all, this netbook looks great. Asus launched quite a lot of stylish devices lately, and the UX30 is one of them. As you can see in the pictures, this gadget is very thin (~2 cm) and has a brushed aluminum front cover that gives it a certain prestige. All the ports are concealed, so they won’t mess up the exterior aspect.

Opening the lit, you’ll get a nice keyboard with independent keys  and the big touch-pad Asus already uses on other models (like the U50 and U70). This touch-pad doesn’t have multi-gesture support and has some kind of prominent plastic points on it. Asus says these offer a better tactile experience, but i kind of disagree: straight flat touch-pads are way better for my fingers. As for the keys, although independent, they are a little too small for me (18mm each) and kind of wobbly . Still, a nice keyboard nonetheless, but not as good as the ones from the Sony Vaio laptops .

On the inside you’ll also find a button that will enable you to rapidly switch between operating modes (quiet, high performance, office, etc).

The screen

There’s nothing special about this screen. This UX30 has a standard 13.3″ screen with LED backlight and glossy finish. Visibility angles and brightness are good too, although I’ve definitely seen better on more expensive devices, though . And since the display is glossy (very glossy i might say), using it outside or in powerful light conditions will be difficult, cause the screen will nearly transform itself in a mirror (you can say I’m not a glossy screens fan ). On darker conditions though, the display performs great, with good luminosity and color reproduction.

Hardware

The hardware inside the ASUS UX30 makes it more powerful than the average netbook. First of all, it doesn’t use the Atom platform, but a series of Intel CULV processors. The device we had on our hands comes with a single core 1.3 Ghz SU2700 CPU, and that’s quite odd, as the official specs say this model will come with SU3500 (1,4 Ghz, single core) or SU9400 (1,4 GHz, dual core) CPUs . But as we said before, this is a pre-release version of the UX30.

Update: It seems that this CPU is indeed announced for the UX30, although i still can’t spot it on the official site (asus.com)

Besides that, it has 2 GB or RAM , the embedded Intel GMA X4500MHD graphic card and a 250 GB HDD. The top versions will boost up to 4 GB of RAM and 500 GB drives though.

Connectivity and ports

Side ports are concealed

Side ports are concealed

It’s nice when a portable notebook comes with good connectivity and enough ports for everyday usage. This Asus UX30 has 3xUSB slots, headphone jack, LAN slot and HDMI + mini VGA and  others. As i said, these slots are concealed by stylish covers. But, i don’t like the positioning of these slots, especially since the RJ45 LAN is situated on the left side, slightly close to the front part . Thus, if you plan to connect you UX30 to Internet via a cable, you might not like that at all.

But I recommend you don’t, especially since this notebook comes with Wireless 802.11n , which is a lot faster than the previous 802.11b/g standard . Bluetooth is also present but no 3G integrated modem (not sure if a version with such a feature is even planed for the UX30 series).

The device also has a SD/MMC card reader that will come in handy from time to time too.

Portability

Like i said, this device is compact and very slim (322 x 222 x 20 mm). It’s also light too, weighting just 3.5 pounds (1.6 kg) with the standard 3 Cell battery on. And speaking fo battery, you might not like that, since it will only give you an autonomy of nearly 4.30 hours on Windows Vista (medium usage, balanced plan, wireless ON). I would have expected more from a portable notebook though. And it seems there’s no plan of offering a bigger battery for this model either.

A couple of Photos (made by us)

They’re not the best photos, we’re not professional photographers, so sorry for the minor defects .

Performances and final thoughts

The Asus UX30 we had in our hands came with Windows Vista . The overall performance is OK, the device scoring a 3.2 mark on the Vista rating system. It’s very good for normal everyday usage and can even play HD movies (720p). Games and CPU hungry application will be a tougher nut to crack though.

All in one, the Asus UX30 is a nice device with very good looks and decent hardware. Some might find the battery life a little bit to low for a portable device though, and i must say am one of those. But perhaps this is the only real down-point of this laptop.

As for prices, we’re not sure how high will they be. I’d reckon they’ll start from around 800-900 bucks and go way up, as the UX30 might be a competitor for the MSI X-Slim X320 that has a similar price tag. But we’ll find out more about this once the Asus UX30 reaches the stores, early this fall.

Update1: A black version of the Asus UX3o was spotted in Europe (in a French shop actually), but more powerful than the one presented here, with the 1.4 Ghz SU3500 processor, 4 GB of RAM and a 320 GB hard-drive. All these for 799 euros. We’re still waiting for the UX30 in the US though.

Update2: The UX30 won’t reach the US after all. In here, there’s another 13 inch laptop available, the Asus UL30A. It’s somehow similar to this one in terms of portability and shape, but comes with better hardware and way bigger battery life. You can read all about it in my review for the UL30A laptop here on this site, and also see pics and find out where you can buy it and how much it costs (hint: it’s around $600 and even less).

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About The Author

Andrei Girbea, aka "Mike", Editor-in-Chief at TLBHD.com. I absolutely hate carrying around heavy stuff, that's why I'm fond of mini-laptops and portable computers. I'm primarily using such devices and have been testing them for many years now. Get in touch in the comments section below.

6 Comments

  1. Chenz April 19, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    will be buying ASUS UX30 tomorrow ;)

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