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The ZenBook Prime is exactly what the first generation of ZenBooks should have been.
While it still inhabits a head turning, champagne coloured aluminium chassis, it's more than just an Ivy Bridge update. Asus' latest puts in a vastly improved, backlit keyboard and swaps out the Sentelic pad for an Elan, something that was done midway through production of the original ZenBook. The Elan experience is worlds better in tracking and reliability, and also enables the simultaneous-double-tap gesture, which is interpreted as a right click. The only issue we've found with the Elan pad so far is to do with old Windows help files (of .CHM format), where double finger scrolling for some reason also magnifies the page uncontrollably. It's an vanishingly niche problem, but nonetheless exists.
Other changes to the ZenBook include two USB 3.0 ports instead of one; and most importantly, an IPS 1920x1080 screen.
- USB 3.0: 2
- Optical: None
- Video: Micro VGA (adapter included), micro HDMI
- Ethernet: None
- Wireless: Dual channel 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.0
It's about time that screens got decent, too. The superior viewing angles are immediately apparent, the gradation between colours significantly better. It identifies itself as being manufactured by CMN, which we can only assume is Chimei.
It has an obvious brown colour cast by default — white is definitely not white, grey is definitely not grey. Asus' Splendid tool comes in handy here; setting the screen to "My Profile" and the temperature to 6500K fixes the issue.
One thing that can't be fixed is the distinct points of light bleed along the bottom, very obvious when a dark screen is shown. While a certain amount of bleed from the bottom is common for laptops, it's disappointing from an IPS screen, considering it's meant to be premium.
By default, the screen is set at 125 per cent DPI, and it's likely most will want to keep it there, as text can seem a little tiny at 100 per cent. We can only imagine how squished the 11.6-inch version of the Prime will be, which also offers a Full HD screen. Just be aware that a huge amount of Windows apps don't properly scale with DPI settings, and so at 125 per cent, you may see some situations where text is overly huge and runs outside of element borders.