Asus Zenbook UX31 running Ubuntu: first impressions’

Last week, I finally gave in and bought a new laptop. I wanted something small and lightweight, yet reasonably powerful.

I discounted the MacBook Air on a couple of counts: the increased cost and the potential for extra hassle getting Ubuntu running.

My two choices were the Dell XPS 13 and the Asus Zenbook. The Dell was my first choice: Project Sputnik, the fact Mark has just got one and its size were all in its favour.

The Asus is a good looking machine and has had good reviews. Some dislike the keyboard, but it has been okay for me. However, the Dell feels like it has more momentum amongst the kind of people I work with and the people who make Ubuntu work well on laptops.

After much thought, and a few conversations, a couple of things pushed me away from the Dell: the trackpad isn’t yet well supported in anything other than Windows and it’s a touch more expensive than the Asus.

So, after a few days with the Asus, here’s a quick run-down:

  • It really is very thin, lightweight and looks great.
  • The keyboard is okay; not perfect but not terrible.
  • The battery life under Ubuntu is mediocre; three or four hours under light usage.
  • Wifi range is a joke; seriously poor.
  • Despite being advertised as supporting 5GHz wifi, it sees only 2.4GHz networks.
  • The trackpad does not switch off when typing; very frustrating in use and, also, I could probably have got the Dell.
  • Sound quality is very good.
  • The screen resolution is good and, for my purposes, colours and contrast appear to be good.

I’ll report back when I’ve started to tackle some of these issues.