Aimed at students, young professionals and other go-getters, the Asus Zenbook UX305 is a new 13.6-inch laptop shown off at IFA in Berlin. It comes in black, white, gold and red and is expected to go on sale in the UK in the first few months of 2015.
Prices and release dates for the UK, US and Australia are yet to be confirmed.
Asus reckons the UX305 is one of the slimmest laptops going, measuring 12.3mm thick and weighing 1.2kg (2.6 pounds). At our hands on event at IFA in Berlin, we were certainly impressed by how slim it was and its all-aluminium frame both looks great and makes it feel like a luxurious piece of kit. It's something of a fingerprint magnet though, so keep a cleaning cloth handy if you want it to look its best.
Inside that slender metal frame is an Intel Core M processor, backed up by 8GB of RAM, which should provide plenty of power to keep Windows ticking along nicely. How it handles demand tasks like photo and video editing remains to be seen. It connects to the Web via dual-band 802.11 Wi-Fi.
The UX305 comes with a choice of up to 256GB in solid-state storage for your movies, music and other files. The advantage of a solid-state drive is that it's much faster and less prone to damage than a hard disc, so you shouldn't lose all your stuff if you lose your grip on it and send it plummeting to the floor -- although how that metal chassis will fare is another question.
The UX305 runs Windows 8.1, the latest version of Microsoft's venerable software for laptops and PCs. Updated for the tablet and touchscreen age, Windows 8 is inspired by the simplicity of a smartphone with colourful squares known as "live tiles" appearing on the home screen, acting both as shortcuts to your applications and giving you updates right there on the main screen without having to even open the app.
The screen is a 3,200x1,800-pixel multi-touch display. With Windows 8 and a touchscreen both present and correct, you can swipe around the screen with a fingertip and pinch to zoom with two fingers, just like on a phone or tablet. The UX305 also has a large touchpad by the keyboard if you prefer moving the cursor the old-fashioned way and indeed some models will be sold without a touchscreen, depending on how much you want to spend. To get the best from Windows 8, we whole-heartedly recommend opting for a laptop with a touchscreen.
The Asus Zenbook UX305 is an extremely attractive laptop and its slim design is sure to appeal to professional users who want something that'll slide easy into a briefcase, but will look the part when pulled out in a business class lounge. The big question is of course price. With an impressive amount of tech packed into a metal body, it's unlikely to come cheap, but I'm hoping that it will be competitively priced against laptops like the MacBook Airs and Samsung's recent Ativ ultra books.