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Asus Zenbook14: Tough-n-light travel companion

You can select the right combo of memory, storage and cpu to configure the 14-inch Zenbook that best meets your needs

By Anand Parthasarathy

The era of passing through airport check-in or immigration, with one shoulder sagging from a weighty laptop bag has gone with the wind. Today, the frequent traveler has a choice of thin-n-light laptop PCs which can often slip into a pocket in one’s main cabin baggage and add hardly a kilogram or so to the total weight.

The problem is many of these travel-friendly laptops tend to sacrifice build quality for lightness and many professionals   who tend to work on-the-go have seen their laptops damaged by a simple fall from table height or similar hazard of crowded lobbies, waiting areas and the like.

Military-standard

That is why I am thrilled to find that in their latest range of 14-inch laptops, Asus have ensured military-grade ruggedness to Mil Standard 810G before they started working on a lower weight. That means the ZenBook 14 can take a very wide range of ambient temperatures from ice cold to desert hot and can also withstand drops, vibrations and rough usage that cover all outdoor use scenarios. The weight – depending on the combo of RAM (8/16/32 GB) or storage (256/512 GB/1 TB) you chose is a whisker over 1 kg. The unit I reviewed was the  Asus ZenBook 14 (UX425) with 16 GB SSD storage/ 16 GB memory. (A 13-inch option is also available)

The full HD LED backlit screen will serve well if you need to watch a lot of videos and the Harmon speakers which incorporate noise cancelling, deliver clear sound, though volume-wise it could have been a mite louder. (Perhaps this is a hidden plus:  we don't want to belt out music in public places at high volume.)

Good battery life

A highlight of this laptop is the long battery life provided: which should keep you going for almost a full day of normal use. I also liked the fact that Asus has not economized on the range of ports it provides – USB-A, USB-C, Thunderbolt, HDMI, microSD (but no audio jack, so you need to carry a USB to audio converter). The default OS is Windows 10 Home and the CPU is 10th generation Intel Core i5 or i7.

There are some useful touches: The touch pad can be converted into a numeric keypad with the flick of a switch.

Latest WiFi

This is the first laptop I have seen in 2020 that comes with the latest WiFi 6 standard. This means your laptop is future proofed for at least 5 years and  provided your router or hotspot is WiFi-6 ready, you can experience data speeds that are at least twice as fast as the best of today’s WiFi5 ( 802.11ac) connections. This is a really important consideration because the ZenBook 14 is premium prized: depending on your choice of memory, storage and CPU, the price ranges from around Rs 80,000 to just over Rs 1 lakh. I did see some good discounts at Amazon, where the entry level specs can be had for around Rs 76,000.

If you buy a laptop in 2021 and expect to use it for 3-5 years with a lot of travel in your working life,, the Asus ZenBook  is a sound proposition.