What does the S stand for? We think it stands for Simplicity… or Speed...or Smoothness…
Earlier, laptops were heavy and our shoulders hated carrying them around, especially when they always cribbed for a refuel every two hours. Well, now things are a bit different.
We’ve always been fans of Asus’ Zen inspired laptops and its unique spun finish design coupled with balanced body works performance powers. And now with the entry of the ZenBook Pro for professionals and ZenBook 13 for low-budgeteers, it seems like the ZenBook S is an ideal middle man serving the purpose for students, small businesses and frequent travellers who require the power of ultra portability at its peak. That's if you're looking for a fitness freak and willing to shell out a lot of money.
Continue reading if you’re looking for a laptop, that’s got the spirit to take on the common MacBook, the mighty Dell XPS and other ultra slim notebooks out there.
Design: Johnny Bravo
ZenBooks have always shown-off its all metal-body and its special spun-finish design on the lid that not only looks good but sadly is an easy victim to fingerprints. But hey, it still looks far better than the rest and we’re not complaining.
It’s one of the thinnest ZenBooks in its series and at 12.99mm it ranks up to be thinner than the Apple MacBook and lighter than the Dell XPS 13 (2018). That’s a win.
Since it’s slim and slender it tends to get a little hot for the keys to handle. So to avoid that, Asus’ ErgoLift hinge raises the laptop by 5.5° which helps it to vent out easily. This helps in cooling by taking in air from below and gushing the heat outwards through the vent below the screen. At least it keeps your lap from burning if you’re binging on Netflix or typing long emails.
Can you use the empty space under the keyboard to heat or hide food? No, not at all.
That space underneath also helps in better music playback and eases the whole typing experience so your fingers complain a little less after chomping down a 2000 word review.
The laptop may look expensive and easily damageable, but mind you, it’s not what you think it is. We carried it back and forth in Mumbai’s local trains, got pushed and elbowed but we didn't worry about the laptop breaking apart. Asus made sure it’s made to feed on your clumsiness. You can plonk it in a Rexene-like case for extra safety and looks that ultra-slim along with it.
But whilst it’s off the case, its ability to withstand train rides and airport journeys, thanks to its military-grade test (MIL-STD 810G), so there’s lesser worry if you bang it on the corner or drop it from a certain height . Don’t actually try it though, you might end up breaking something else.
Nevertheless, it feels sturdy and super light in the hand to pick and carry from room to room and there’s no reason to be shy of flaunting its looks all over the office floor. It’s an ideal machine to carry around in your backpack and not worry about the weight that comes with it.
Display: Ogle worthy
Who loves thick bezels? Not us for sure. Asus pleased us by taking its former ZenBook for a little cut and shave and now it’s certainly a looker. It's not the thinnest out there, but thanks to its 13.3in NanoEdge display, you can easily ignore those black bezel strips and gain some more screen to look and use.
Asus never disappointed with its displays. This one has a Full HD (1920x1080) screen which throws a great amount of colour, brightness (331ppi) and detail. Colours never looked so good, all thanks to the 100% sRGB badge that it flaunts. Everything is bright and beautiful and pixel-peepers wouldn’t find the need to complain.
Fancy a weekend Netflix-and-chill session after a long week’s work? You got it. It’s a delight to binge watch an entire season tirelessly. Watching documentaries or movies with your partner doesn't need too much of head twisting or turning. You could turn on American Crime Story or Magic on Humans on Netflix and sit back and enjoy.
Too much eye-strain after a long binge? Switch screen modes from Normal, Vivid, or Manual to suit your eyes or type of work. If you’re reading at night, Asus’ Eye Care tech automatically turn its night light to reduce eye-strain. Phew.
Keyboard, trackpad and speakers: it's a pleasure
The moment we rested our palm and reached out for its keys, we fell in love. Typing on the ZenBook S was a joy and we just couldn’t stop. The keys feel firm and well-traveled along the keyboard (1.2mm).
Although, it may not have that thonk like the MacBook or the chomp like any other mechanical keyboard, but what it does have, is the ability to make you fall in love with typing all over again. The keys aren’t as noisy or clanky so you can happily go on smacking down long emails and not worry about waking up the passenger who’s busy snoring beside you.
The ErgoLife hinge raises the keyboard slightly, which makes it easier to look at the keys from a distance and effortless for your palm to rest at a heightened angle. Prefer typing in dark rooms without the help of your smartphone’s torch? Don’t worry. It sports a backlit keyboard (with different brightness modes) so you don’t end up pressing the power button instead of the delete button. Buttons we tell you…
The trackpad doesn't sport a multi-screen or NumberPad like its siblings, but what it does have is a fingerprint scanner that works well. It’s pretty responsive and unlocks in a jiffy.
It’s quite responsive to use and point with. We didn’t need an external mouse to scroll or hover over minor stuff, but we had to end up using a mouse to edit on PhotoShop or InDesign.
When it comes to audio performance, laptops don’t do exceedingly well in general, but because there’s space underneath, there is room for its Harman Kardon speakers to play music with slightly little more bass and clarity. It’s not as loud as a MacBook or a desk side speaker, but can do the job in an office-like environment. Just make sure you’ve turned off the your ceiling fan for louder audio.
Performance and Battery: Charged up
Fired up with Intel’s 8th gen i7-8550U at 1.8Ghz core processor and up to 16GB RAM, this one succeeds in running softwares like PhotoShop, browser multitasking, switching between Microsoft Excel or Word files without any hiccups. It may look skinny from the outside, but it’s got the strength to jab down with other ultrabooks in its competition.
It’s got Intel’s UHD 620 graphics card which is decent enough to spring animations and a run average graphics intense games like Fifa 18, CS GO or PUBG. We wouldn't say it’s gaming friendly, but if you fancy a round or two, you could play without stress.
Heavy performance would also mean a toll on the battery. The ZenBook S claims to give a battery span of 13.5hrs, which is quite surprising, to be honest. If you set the performance to Balanced, reduce brightness to about 70%, and turn on its Quiet Fan, you can expect to get about a decent 8hrs of battery life. Which is perfect for a 9-to-5er or a frequent flyer, but we’re still going to require more.
If you switch off Quiet Fan and use it on full throttle mode, expect no more than 3hrs of battery life. That’s quite a bummer when you’re paying that price.
You can Fast charge through its USB Type -C Thunderbolt 3.0 port and expect it to juice up within a good hour.
Speaking of charging, Asus gives us an option of how you want your battery to juice up and prepare itself for future efficiency with its Battery Care feature. If you’re always connected to a power source, it won’t juice it up to 100% which helps in sustaining battery health in the long run. If you travel a lot, you could enable it to juice it up completely and not worry about looking for the nearest power source.
Features and ports: C you out there
Welcome to 2018, the era of dongles. The ZenBook S worked quite hard on its skinny physique, that it completely forgot to make space for other external ports. If you’re always dependent on your USB or card-reader, you’d have to also carry the dongle it comes with too.
The dongle sports a Mini HDMI port, a USB Type-A and a DCIN port. On the laptop, you get three ports (two Thunderbolts 3 USB Type-C with Fast Charge and a regular USB Type-C too). Hey! Where’s my card reader? You’ll have to bring your own.
If you think of it, it’s classic if you’re not too fussy about connecting external devices and just using it as is. If you want, you could connect your smartphone through a Type-C cable if you’re looking to connect something.
Among other superstars like Dell, Lenovo, Acer, Apple and others, Asus made sure that it’s put itself out there and gunning for the title. There’s no stopping now. It’s surely a looker when compared to other ultrabooks around in the market.
Coming in hot and expensive at ₹1.29 lacs, the ZenBook S might be one of the best looking 'premium' laptops out there, and if we had an option to choose from, that’d be our amongst our picks.
Let’s round it off and tell you why. Its trifling weight makes it perfect to plonk in your not that big backpack, it premium compact design is beautiful to look and feel, the ErgoLift hinge is unique and serves quite a purpose for a thin laptop with powerful innards. However, it being an ultrabook, it disappoints in lacking an exceptional battery life like the MacBook or the Dell. It's built for the niche audience who travel a lot, need supreme portability at all times
However, we still think it’s enough to be rewarded a full five stars.