Asus’ Zenbooks have consistently been some of our favourite ultra-portable laptops. The UX303UA builds on this heritage with updated specifications and some bold new colours. Unfortunately, not all colours are available in every country; depending on where you look, you might get Rose Gold, Smoky Brown or Icicle Gold.
Common to whichever colour you opt for is the ‘spun-metal’ finish synonymous with many of Asus’ laptops. Concentric circles on the lid add some elegance to the design, catching the light and making the UX303UA look every bit the premium laptop. My Smoky Brown review model looked and felt great. The aluminium construction helps the UX303UA remain a reasonably light 1.45kg, although this isn't as light as Dell's XPS 13 or the MacBook Air .
The tapered design reduces down from 19.2m at the back to just 3mm at the front. It’s certainly thin and light enough to comfortably slip into a bag and not cause any discomfort after a day of carrying. A fabric sleeve is included, which, while not padded, will help protect the chassis from any scratches.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Typing proved a little frustrating, with the chiclet-style keys lacking much in the way of travel, yet still feeling quite spongey. With the need for a firm press to activate each keystroke, accuracy took a hit; anything but a concerted, forceful press meant a stroke would be missed.
Key placement was at least conventional, with none of the major keys using a reduced size. The cursor keys are smaller than usual, but are isolated in such a way that they’re still easy to locate when you need them.
The touchpad is a generous size for a 13.3in laptop, with a shiny, reflective bezel around the edge. The mouse buttons are integrated into the touchpad, but accurately detected clicks without any issues. The touchpad coating is nice and smooth, so your fingers glide across with consummate ease. Inputs were detected accurately and the usual multitouch gestures, like pinch to zoom and two-finger scroll, worked fantastically well. Windows 10 has some other great multitouch gestures like three-finger swipes that came off without a hitch.
Three USB3 ports are respectable for an ultra-portable; competing laptops make do with two. There are also full-size HDMI and mini DisplayPort video outputs, and a combination headset jack for audio. Usefully, Asus includes VGA and Ethernet adaptors, and there’s also an integrated SD card reader. The USB Ethernet adaptor doesn’t run at Gigabit speeds, so you’ll get faster transfer speeds if you use the integrated 802.11ac Wi-Fi chip – as long as your router supports the standard.